25 April 2000

Despite the nosedive of dotcom stocks and the global volatility of the stockmarkets, McCann-Erickson Worldwide's media forecasting doyen Robert Coen is sticking to his guns on his US adspend predictions for 2000.

Last December, Coen estimated that advertisers would spend $233 billion in the US on broadcast, cable, magazine, newspaper and outdoor ads. Today he stood by his prediction, commenting that overall ad spend the year wouldn't be hurt unless there is a "deep decline" in the economy. He said most ad spending has already been budgeted and planned through the third quarter, and that only the fourth quarter remains up in the air.

Some ad executives and analysts who have maintained their optimistic forecasts are now keeping a wary eye on the stock market and dotcoms in particular. Evidence of any weakness could come next month when television advertisers start making spending decisions about the new network TV season, the start of which will be delayed until Oct. 1, when the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia come to an end. Last year, total revenue from advance ad sales for the Big Four networks, known as the "upfront," rose by at least 10% to an estimated $6.6 billion.

But, comments Morgan Stanley Dean Witter analyst Michael Russell: “Pricing expectations have been quite high, and advertisers may balk at paying up in light of a downturn in the stock market.” Russell observes that this year, the “decline in the stock market comes at a bad time-just before TV upfront prices in May”, adding that he hasn't seen any pullback by advertisers yet, but believes most are still evaluating their ad budgets.

Wall Street Journal