Universal McCann’s Coen Revises Forecast Slightly Downward

NEW YORK — While other ad spending forecasters have recently revised their earlier U.S. ad spending outlooks upward, Bob Coen, svp and director of forecasting for Universal McCann, is lowering his 2002 forecast to 2.1 percent growth from the +2.4 percent level he predicted in December.

Coen, who factors in a broader array of advertising categories than his rivals, such as yellow pages and direct advertising in addition to major media, is predicting total ad spending for 2002 to top out at $236 billion instead of $239 billion, as he believed last December.

The softening of stock market valuations since the beginning of the year, which has slowed ad spending by many financial marketers and in turn spread caution to other advertisers, is the primary reason for his revision, Coen said. Regarding the more rosy views being promulgated by other forecasters, Coen said, “I was a little too optimistic in December — and I may be too pessimistic right now — but I was still closer to the truth in December than the other forecasters.”

Zenith Optimedia Group revised its outlook for U.S. ad spending upward earlier this month, although still expecting a decline compared to last year. The media holding company predicted that spending in major media in the U.S. will shrink by only 1.2 percent this year, to $138 billion. In April, the closely watched forecast had 2002 major media spending declining by 1.8 percent to $132 billion.