Leading forecaster lowers advertising growth estimate for 2002

Wednesday, July 10th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A leading advertising forecaster has lowered his estimate for growth in U.S. ad spending this year to 2.1 percent from his previous target of 2.4 percent, citing the wobbly stock market.

Robert Coen, director of forecasting and a senior vice president at Universal McCann, said Wednesday he still expected a mild recovery in advertising this year because of the Winter Olympics and the elections coming up in the fall.

``But don't get too excited,'' Coen said at his twice-yearly presentation to advertising executives. ``If you take out the political advertising, the gains are even smaller.''

Coen said he lowered his forecast from December estimates because of continued softness in several major advertising categories, including computers, airlines and financial services.

He also said the troubled stock market will make companies be more cautious about their marketing budgets.

Coen still remains one of the more bullish advertising forecasters. Zenith Optimedia of Britain is projecting a 1.2 percent decline in U.S. advertising spending this year, a slight improvement from its previous estimate of a 1.8 percent decline. Analyst Lauren Rich Fine of Merrill Lynch expects growth of just 0.4 percent.

Whatever happens this year, most forecasters agree it will be an improvement over 2001, when Coen said advertising shrank 6.5 percent in 2001 to $231.3 billion because of fallout in Internet advertising and the Sept. 11 attacks.

But with the economy now showing more signs of recovery, Coen said he still expects advertising to rebound in 2003, with growth of 5.5 percent.