AMSTERDAM: Advertisers in the FMCG and healthcare sectors were among the few companies that boosted their expenditure last year, according to a new global study.

The Nielsen Company assessed 27 markets around the world, including major nations in North America, Asia Pacific, Africa and Europe, and found adspend levels fell by 1.6% in 2009 year-on-year.

More favourably, the fourth quarter delivered an increase of 4.5% in all, although this positive trend did not apply to the US, Japan, Italy or Spain.

Ben van der Werf, managing director of Nielsen Global AdView, which produced the report, also sounded a further note caution.

"Despite adspend declining overall in 2009, the final part of the year showed growth – a good sign of things to come this year," he argued.

"But while the first half of 2009 compares to a fairly strong, pre-crisis beginning of 2008, the second half of the year compares to a weaker end of 2008, which may 'inflate' the growth."

Indeed, van der Werf suggested that as Nielsen's data was collected at rate-card prices, it did not cover the "aggressive discount policies" implemented by many media owners facing diminishing demand.

By geography, Asia enjoyed an uptick of 6.6% in the last 12 months having "inverted the downturn" early in the year, and was also the only area to experience an expansion after the second quarter.

TV advertising budgets in this region climbed by 10.4%, with radio up by 7.8% and newspapers by 1.1%, while magazines slipped by 6.4%.

In Europe, the climate improved in the final six months of 2009, but revenues still dropped by 4.9%, with TV down by 2.8%, radio by 5% and magazines by 14.7%, while web sales rose by 1.9%.

North American totals slid by 9.4%, including a 5.6% contraction for TV, 8% for radio, 9.5% for newspapers and 21.4% for magazines.

Overall, automotive companies cut back by 15.1% on an annual basis, with the clothing and accessories segment off by 11.6%, financial services by 11.4% and the industrial and services industry by 7.5%.

The durables, entertainment, media and telecoms sectors all registered reductions in the low single digits, showing the broad impact of the financial crisis.

By contrast, FMCG specialists heightened their outlay by 10.6%, with healthcare spending rising by 6.1%, and distribution channels by 4.2% in this period across the all of the countries analysed.

As previously reported, Carat, the media agency, has predicted that global adspend will improve by 2.9% in 2010 and a further 4% in 2011.

Data sourced from The Nielsen Company; additional content by Warc staff