PARIS: Publicis Groupe's third-quarter revenue held steady amid the current economic turmoil, dipping marginally from €1.12 billion ($1.39bn; £900.95m) to €1.11bn, reported chairman/ceo Maurice Lévy (pictured) on Monday.

But he is not sanguine about prospects for 2009, predicting "a tense year with a real challenge in mature markets". Lévy can foresee neither the intensity nor the duration of the downturn. "We're traversing a large hurricane," he said.

The marketing services conglomerate, the world's fourth largest, will rely on expansion into emerging markets and digital advertising to help it counter weaker growth in developed markets and traditional sectors.

Publicis has seen an adspend slowdown in the automotive industry, whereas the financial sector is "contrasting": some marketers cutting spend, others boosting it.

At the end of September, digital advertising accounted for 18.9% of group revenues, bettering the 13.6% rise achieved in the year-earlier period. Lévy expects this figure to rise to 25% by 2010.

He also predicts that 2009 "will be a tense year with a real challenge in mature markets, despite which Publicis "should maintain a high margin level". He remains committed to his previous profit margin goal of 16.5%, iterated in June and reiterated in July.

However, his bullish outlook made little impression on a bear market, with Publicis shares down by 2.5% to €15.80 at Monday's close of the Paris bourse. In the year to date Publicis stock has dropped by 41%.

Data sourced from (France); additional content by WARC staff