Media Money: TV ad revenues take a big hit in January

Have the UK’s media agencies embarked on the long march back from Happyclappyland?

In recent months, I’ve lambasted optimistic ad growth forecasts from the likes of Zenithoptimedia and Group M.

In December, WPP-owned Group M forecast a mere 6% decline in TV advertising revenues during 2009. Delivered at around the same time, Zenithoptimedia’s forecast felt similarly optimistic.

Just a few weeks later, Mark Sweney of the Guardian has been talking with unnamed ‘media agency sources”.

These Deep Throats of Soho are now predicting ugly year-on-year declines for UK-based commercial broadcasters of between 12% and 20% in January. One of the sources has this to say:

‘At the moment there is an extremely short term market; at best we are seeing minus 10% or 12% and at worst minus 15% or even more.”

How does this tally with Zenithoptimedia’s forecast that advertisers will channel more and more of their spend into TV during a recession because of the medium’s ‘power to build brands”?

Not particularly well, I suspect.

But it’s still early doors. January is a thin month. It wouldn’t be sensible to extrapolate too far from these numbers.

All the same, with financial chaos accelerating on the High Street, I’d lay odds that Zenithoptimedia and Group M will soon need to rethink their numbers.

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