ZenithOptimedia Cuts Global Online-Ad Growth Forecast In Half

The latest in a series of downward ad-spend-forecast revisions comes from ZenithOptimedia. The Publicis Groupe media shop is predicting that spending in the U.S will drop 8.7 percent this year. Within that context, online in ’09 doesn’t look so bad. ZenithOptimedia expects the category to grow globally to 8.6 percent — about half the 18 percent gain the agency predicted in December. Still ZenithOptimedia is a bit more optimistic than other forecasters, like eMarketer, which recently predicted 4.5 percent growth for online this year. (For ZenithOptimedia’s UK numbers, visit our sister site, PCUK.)

Search, classifieds up; display’s down: Naturally, most of the growth in online — the only category expected to grow this year — is coming from search, which is expected to be up 9 percent in the U.S. Despite the negative effects the downturn has had on real estate and job ads, online classified in the U.S is expected to grow 1.8 percent. In keeping with other trends, traditional display will shrinks 1.8 percent.

The internet will rise again: While many doubt that online advertising will experience the kinds of growth it did when the space emerged out of the last downturn, double-digit gains are just around the corner, ZenithOptimedia contends. Just a little bit of confidence needs to returns to the market, and then online advertising will pick up again, to 11.3 percent in 2010 and 15.3 percent in 2011.

A dire warning: Not everyone will be able to wait for the good times to come back. Over the past few years, the number of sites on the web has increased about twice as rapidly as online ad spending. Given the dominance of a few major players, many will find relying mostly on online ad revenue to be unsustainable.

Compare and contrast: Here’s a list of other recent U.S. online growth forecasts for this year:

eMarketer: 4.5 percent
Barclays: 2.3 percent
BernsteinResearch: 5.9 percent
UBS: 1.4 percent
JP Morgan: 10 percent (display ads, including both performance and branded advertising, will grow only 6.3 percent.)

Compare and wallow: With global advertising down in general, for those focused only on internet advertising, here’s how ZenithOptimedia expects other categories to fare:
Newspapers: -11.6 percent
Magazines: -10.9 percent
TV: -5.5 percent
Radio: -10.8 percent

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