PARIS: Overall sentiment is improving in the global advertising industry, but spending levels have yet to increase as a result, Fernando Rodes, ceo of Havas, the marketing services conglomerate, has said.

Havas posted a 9.2% decline in revenues in the first half of this year, as clients continued to rein in their expenditure levels during the financial crisis.

According to Rodes, global adspend will decrease by between 7% and 11% in 2009 as a whole, with the exact figure dependent on fluctuating trends.

"We should do what we wanted to do in terms of profitability and bottom line. We are rather reassured. In terms of top line or revenue, it's a bit more complicated, it's changing a lot," he said.

"What has changed is the collective psychology. There is hope, and that's something. But if we look for more solid signs, we don't find them," added Rodes.  "September will give us a new indication."

Digital remains one of the key drivers of growth, and could contribute 20% of the French company's sales by the end of next year.

Havas is also considering making acquisitions in important fast-growing markets like Brazil, Russia and India, Rodes said, while a merger with Aegis also remains a “theoretical possibility”.

"Today we have a choice, it's either we continue to develop Havas through partnerships, targeted acquisitions and above all strong organic growth, or we look for a deal with a company of the same size," he argued.

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff