new york It was a down year for new business no

new york It was a down year for new business no matter how you cut it. Fewer creative and media accounts went into play, and collectively they represented a smaller dollar amount than last year, based on an Adweek analysis of account shifts with billings of $20 million or more. Some 100 accounts worth a total of $16 billion in billings shifted from January through November, down from 124 accounts worth $20.6 billion during the same period last year. As a percentage, the number of accounts dropped 19 percent and the dollar amount fell 22 percent.

The slowdown followed three consecutive years of total dollar growth dating back to 2002. Why the decline? Agency honchos and search consultants cited a growing economy and less antsy clients. “Businesses were doing well this year,” said Mark Goldstein, North American CMO at BBDO. “When businesses are performing better, the snipers’ telescopic sites move off the agencies. In 2004 and ’05, when the economy was still sluggish, there was a lot of uncertainty.”

Others pointed to clients pausing to adapt to the growing proliferation of media channels. “It’s a period of testing. We’re entering into a period of bold experimentation,” said Russel Wohlwerth of A-Team Advertising Advisors. Few, however, expect the downturn to continue. “You’re going to continue to see some movement in retail,” said Saatchi & Saatchi’s Rob Moorman. “A lot of it depends on how the economy goes.” Added McCann Worldgroup’s Matt Weiss: “You’re going to see a lot of agencies ramp up their prospecting plans. [They] will have to be a lot more active below the surface.”—