Reports published yesterday by AC Nielsen MMS highlight the effects of the current ad slowdown on agency billings.

In the twelve months to June 2001, over two thirds of Britain’s top thirty creative agencies experienced a fall in billings – among them the nation’s largest shop Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO where they slipped by eight per cent.

Media shops have been less badly hit, although half have seen billings slide. The highest-billing agency, Zenith Media, suffered a fall of 13.84%.

Opined Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising: “I suspect we're seeing the effects of a softening market."

Less politic was director of a top ten agency who preferred to remain anonymous: “Because consumer confidence is high and the housing market is intact there's a widespread feeling that there will be lots of business by the fourth quarter — but I see no evidence of it.”

But IPA president Bruce Haines put the general alarmism in perspective: “The big issue here is that the first six months of 2000 were bumper months,” he said. “Growth rates were between 11%-15% per cent year on year. Those rates are clearly unsustainable. Going forward, growth rates are looking more normal. This is a wholesale correction.”

News source: CampaignLive (UK)