Political turmoil adds to downgrade in global adspend forecast

Political upheaval in the Middle East has combined with Japan’s “devastating earthquake” to make ZenithOptimedia downgrade its global adspend forecast for the year.

The Publicis Groupe-owned media agency has readjusted its forecast from 4.6 per cent growth this year to 4.2 per cent. In a report released today, the agency said that events in the Middle East and Japan “had immediate consequences for advertising in the affected markets” and pared its 2011 adspend forecast to $471 billion.

In Egypt, ZenithOptimedia said that “there was almost no advertising on television during the revolution”, and, in the aftermath, advertisers have been very careful about the content and placement of their messages. The network also recorded that Japanese broadcasters replaced almost all commercial ad slots with public-service announcements for weeks after the earthquake, and blackouts and distribution problems will hinder media consumption for months to come.

These shocks are not expected to derail the global recovery in the long term. However, it expects some of the missing advertising to reappear later in the year, followed by strong growth in these markets in 2012 thanks to the easy comparison with the first quarter of this year.

Egypt’s advertising spend is expected to fall by 20 per cent, followed by a 12.1 per cent recovery in 2012. Following the troubles in Bahrain, the country’s adspend is predicted to drop by 18.7 per cent from $176 million in 2010 to $143 million. Oman’s market will drop by a similar amount, shrinking by 18.8 per cent. The drops in Egypt, Bahrain and Oman, however, are expected to be offset by growth in other countries in the region, with the UAE growing 5.2 per cent, Saudi Arabia 4.3 per cent, Lebanon 5.8 per cent, and Kuwait 5.9 per cent. The Middle East and North African ad market as a whole is forecast to grow by just 0.1 per cent this year, according to the report.

ZenithOptimedia has also increased its 2012 forecast from the 5.2 per cent it indicated in December to 5.8 per cent.