NEW YORK: Regular as the swallows' return to Capistrano, America's veteran media maharishi Robert J Coen, svp at Universal McCann, signalled the advent of summer with his biannual reading of the nation's adspend runes.

It is difficult to understand the solemnity surrounding these rites of guesswork performed half-yearly by Coen and his fellow haruspices from within the media and investment industries.

Not because of the accuracy of their individual prognostications but the dubiety of the data on which they base their predictions.

It's just possible that Nostradamus wielding Occam's razor could manage to calculate the true amounts paid to whom and for what, whether in cash or kind, and after discounts, inducements and hype are factored into the equation.

Sadly, neither of those legendary savants is on the payroll of the media-monitoring industry. But best guesses are better than no guesses and Coen and his ilk are better guessers than most.

But he got it wrong at his December 2006 divination event, as Coen freely admitted at Tuesday's presentation in New York City. He had "significantly over-projected" ad spending for 2007 and revised his totals downward.

He told attendees that combined national and local ad spending will now total $290.3 billion (€215.54bn; £145.17bn), down by $8bn on his original forecast. Nonetheless, national ad spending in 2007 will still exceed that in 2006.

But "the outlook for advertising this year is not very good," Coen said. "In odd-numbered years there is a significant fall-off in political advertising from the levels of the even-numbered years when all members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are involved in election contests."

Among the sage's revised national advertising predictions for 2007 . . .

  • The Big Four broadcast TV networks will reap $17.1bn in ad revenue, up 3% on 2006.

  • Cable TV in its entirety will garner $20.1bn, up 4.5%.

  • Syndication TV will bring in $3.6bn, down 2%.

  • Magazines will harvest ad revenues of $13.5bn, up 4%.

  • National radio will take $4.5bn, up 2.5%.

  • Newspapers will bring in $7bn, up 1%.

  • Internet advertising will notch the largest percentage gain, as is usual these days, rising 17% to $10.6bn.
Coen's colleague at Universal McCann Brian Wieser told delegates that contrary to popular belief, younger audiences are not abandoning TV for emerging media.

Younger viewers, he said, are actually watching more TV, in addition to using emerging media. Video viewing online is less than 1% of total traditional TV viewing at this time and online video advertising will total $365 million this year.

Other forms of emerging media advertising such as video-on-demand will bring in $160m in 2007, mobile wireless advertising will total $100m, and in-game advertising will reach $216.9m.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff