SYDNEY: Adspend growth in Australia will be nearly flat in 2012 according to Starcom, the media agency, which now predicts an increase of just 0.8%, down from 3.8% earlier in the year.

Low growth of 1.3% in the first half of the year led Starcom to downgrade its adspend expectations in its latest Media Futures forecast.

John Sintras, Starcom's CEO, said: "These figures reflect a trend we have observed over the past few years, with advertisers exercising a cautious approach to spending in a climate where there is still uncertainty over global economic conditions."

This marks the second year in which advertisers have overestimated budget growth and modified their predictions in the mid-year survey.

Media Futures figures are based on interviews with executives and advertisers drawn from a pool of industry members representing the 600 top advertisers in Australia.

According to the latest report, just 38% of advertisers increased their ad budgets in the first half of 2012, down from 44% for the same period in 2011.

Only 33% of respondents said they planned to increase their advertising budget in the second half of the year, accounting for the sharp decline in Starcom's forecasted adspend growth for 2012 as a whole.

Spending intent varied by channel, with 62% of marketers increasing their online investments.

Newspapers and free-to-air TV were targeted for increased spend by 38% of respondents, while one quarter of those surveyed were planning to up their investment in pay TV, radio, magazines and out of home.

Overall these figures reflect those in Warc's latest Consensus Forecast, which suggests total adspend growth of 1.5% in Australia, a 1.1pp downgrade from April's report.

Data sourced from Marketing; additional content by Warc staff