SYDNEY: Australia's A$11 billion (US$8.38bn; €6.55bn; £4.41bn) advertising market is set for an 8.43% growth bonanza next year, according to Steve Allen, managing director of media buying shop Fusion Strategy.

But Allen, by his own admission, is not the most reliable of oracles. He conceded at Monday's session of the annual CEASA (Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia) media conference that he got his 2006 forecasts in a twist, revising down his initial estimate of 9.3% growth to just 4.69%.

Said Allen, whose bases his prognostications on retail spending growth: "I got it wrong. The conventional media has not followed it [retail spending] at all. Clients' behaviour has been quite different from retail sales."

This mea culpa did not, however, deter Allen from delivering another Pollyanna-ish vision of growth in 2007.

He told the conference that advertisers would spend an extra 8.43% in mainstream media next year, driven mainly by a booming internet and pay-TV advertising market. Free-to-air TV and to a lesser extent newspapers - Australia's two largest media sectors - would recover from this year's downturn.

Other media haruspices were more circumspect. Especially Australia's self-proclaimed largest media-buyer Harold Mitchell of Mitchell & Partners, who foresees just 3.7% growth.

Of Allen's forecast, Mitchell commented wryly: "My rule of thumb is that I say about half of what Steve says . . . and I get it right."

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff