ZenithOptimedia upgrades forecast again

Now eyeing a 2.2% global ad gain for 2010 to $456 billion

NEW YORK -- The global advertising market recovery is gaining some steam.
ZenithOptimedia has upgraded its forecast for global advertising growth for the second time in a row, now eyeing a 2.2% improvement in 2010 to $456 billion, up from 0.9% previously.

In December, Zenith had pushed up its 2010 forecast by 0.4 points.

But the U.S. will lag the global recovery, returning to slight growth mode only next year, it projects.

"As is usual after a downturn, the global market will improve steadily over the next three years," the firm said. It calls for 4.1% growth in 2011 (to $474.5 billion), up from its previous estimate of 3.9%, and 5.3% in 2012 (to $499.5 billion), up from 4.8%.

"This pattern of recovery is normal: after the previous two recessions it took three years of progressive recovery for the global ad market to return to normal growth," Zenith said.

For the U.S. market, it predicts a 2% decline in ad spend this year (better than its previous forecast for a 2.6% drop), a 1.6% improvement in 2011 (unchanged from its previous estimate) and a 2.9% gain in 2012 (also unchanged).

Zenith measures major media, such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, cinema, outdoor and Internet ads.

Zenith sees the global TV ad market grow from $173.4 billion in 2009 to $181 billion this year, $189.6 billion next and $199.7 billion in 2012.

Cinema ad spending worldwide will rise from $2.18 billion in 2009 to $2.25 billion in 2010, $2.36 billion in 2011 and $2.47 billion in 2012, according to its latest forecast.

Meanwhile, credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service also cited improving ad trends in upgrading its U.S. broadcast TV sector rating from "stable" to "positive."

"Broadcasters will benefit from the recovery in auto sales, likely to have a disproportionate impact on TV advertising on the upside as it did during the downturn, as well as broad-based improvement in advertising across most categories," Moody's argued. It also cited "the potential for epic political advertising revenue" in the upcoming mid-term elections.