Eurozone bailouts, signs of a slowdown in China and - perhaps most worrying of all - uncertainty over the raising of the US debt ceiling have all hit the headlines recently. Shockingly poor US GDP data released last week have led some to suggest that the world's largest economy could even be facing a double-dip recession. And, according to Warc's latest International Ad Forecast - now available for subscribers to download - it seems that marketers are taking heed of all the bad news.
Released today, the full data set - which measures adspend across 12 major global markets - shows an increasingly conservative mindset prevailing among advertisers. Since March, when the last Forecast was released, adspend growth expectations for 2011 have been cut from 4.6% to 3.2%. The picture is still more bleak when inflation is factored in: at constant 2005 prices, 2011 adspend is actually forecast to fall by 0.1% year-on-year.
So much for the recovery, in other words.
Occasional bright spots emerge on closer analysis of the full Forecast. The data show that marketers are continuing to diversify into new media. Internet adspend is again outperforming the all-media average, with Warc predicting some truly explosive growth rates in some territories: the medium will expand by roughly 40% in India in both 2011 and 2012, for example.
Unsurprisingly, fast-growth BRIC markets are expected to outperform the West in terms of adspend: buoyed by the recent boom in commodity prices, Russia is expected to top the 2011 charts with an expenditure increase of 19.5%. For the same reason, natural resource-rich mature markets such as Australia and Canada are also forecast solid growth.
Globally, expenditure is expected to pick up in 2012, with events such as the London Olympic Games opening up sponsorship and other advertising opportunities for big brands. Adspend growth across the 12 markets at current prices is likely to reach 5.7% for the year, according to the Forecast.
But these predictions are working on the assumption that the European and American political disputes over public debt will be more or less worked out over the months to come. Needless to say, marketing managers, along with everyone else, will be keeping tabs on events in Washington over the next couple of days.