Poll: Marketers will spend less this year

93% of respondents expecting to reduce media budgets

NEW YORK -- The ad industry is bracing for a miserable 2009, with a study of the nation's top marketers -- the companies who foot the bills for most of the content -- expecting to spend less this year.

The Association of National Advertisers survey of its members said that 93% of marketers are expecting to reduce their budgets in the coming months. Media spending cuts of 20% or more are being carried out in 37% of the companies, up from 21% when the previous survey was done six months ago.

A lot has happened in the national economy in the past six months, ANA president/CEO Bob Liodice said. Eighty-seven% of marketers saw reductions in their budget in the previous survey done over the summer, before the collapse of Lehman, the freezing of credit markets and the first steps toward a bailout of the financial industry.

"The advertising/marketing community is going to be in not-good shape for 2009," Liodice said Tuesday. "The question is: How long does that situation affect 2010? That's a hard one to project at this time." Liodice said that it could be early to mid-2010 before there's any upturn in the advertising and marketing industries.

That's not good news for the TV industry, which in the spring will begin selling ad inventory in what could be a less-than-stellar upfront marketplace. Television, Web video and mobile have mostly good stories to tell -- even with the fragmentation of the media -- but the prevailing wisdom is that it's not clear that the market will support much in the way of volume and CPM increases. One executive said last week that it was likely to be flat or down for the 2009-10 TV season.

Liodice said it's hard to get a handle on pricing right now, though he said it's not hard to imagine severe price pressure.

"The reality is whether you're talking about primetime broadcast television or selling mac and cheese, it's not a robust time for anything," Liodice said.

That's borne by marketers' intentions to cut costs in the most recent survey, with 87% cutting their expenses compared with 63% last summer; 77% saying that their media budgets would be cut, compared with 69%; 72% declaring they'll trim production, up from 63%; 68% requiring their ad agencies to reduce expenses, compared with 63% last summer; and 58% saying they would delay or drop new projects, down from 61% last summer.

No doubt the bad economy will be a big topic at the ANA's annual "TV and Everything Else" forum that gathers the biggest marketers with some of the best and brightest in TV, broadband and the agencies. But Liodice also said that the video sectors are better positioned to take advantage of recovery, when it occurs, than the print media.

"The message is going to be sobering on Thursday, one that says we have to hunker down and survive our way through it," he said. "But it also recognizes the substantial opportunity between TV and video screens. ... That sets the groundwork for when the recovery happens."
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