New figures from research giant AC Nielsen show 2001 was a mixed year for advertising in the Asia Pacific region.

The results show an 11% fall in Australian adspend to $2.9 billion last year, the steepest decline in the region. Other nations recording drops included Taiwan and South Korea, down 8% and 2% respectively.

In contrast, Indonesian ad revenues – still rebounding from a severe 1999 nadir – surged 27% to $919.6m; those in China leaped almost 16% to $11.2bn; while in Hong Kong they increased 7.6% to $3.79bn.

However, this research is based on official rate cards, not taking into account the widespread discounts offered by media firms desperate to book advertising last year. The true figures may therefore be lower than Nielsen’s totals – MindShare estimates that adspend actually fell 2% in Hong Kong and rose only 9% in China, though its figures for Indonesia are almost identical.

The outlook for 2002 remains cloudy, as many of Asia’s export-driven economies are reliant on an upturn in US fortunes, the timing of which is anything but clear. However, it is hoped the soccer World Cup, to be hosted by Japan and South Korea in May and June, will provide an extra boost.

The Chinese economy was among the few to register healthy growth last year, hence its increasing adspend. MindShare believes this trend will continue, especially in light of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, and has accordingly forecast advertising expansion for this year of 6% to 7%.

Indonesia, meanwhile, is set to continue its upward surge, with 22% ad growth in 2002 according to MindShare. Despite continuing economic strife, the country is emerging as a relatively untapped market for consumer goods companies, which will consequently keep raising spend.

Elsewhere the forecasts are not so rosy. Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia are in line for growth of 3%–5%; Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines should stay flat; and 5% falls are predicted for Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Data sourced from: Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff