The report, which is derived from surveys of more than 1,000 advertising executives - both marketers and media buyers - responsible for recommending and/or approving ad budgets across media, is the most devastating indication yet that the U.S. advertising economy is falling into a malaise following the credit crisis and economic meltdown that has swept through the U.S. and global marketplace since October. The news follows other weakening signs for the advertising economy, including downward revisions from industry ad trackers, reports from analysts and consultants, and a general perception that the industry is in the throes of the kind of recession it hasn't experienced since the dot-com bust in 2001.
For the moment, the bright spot continues to be dot-coms, or at least online media, and the rapidly emerging mobile marketing space, both of which have more than a majority of ad budgets still expected to grow over the next six months, though even both of those fast-growing media are slowing down from the strong ad executive expectations reflected in API's previous tracking studies.
With the exception of cable TV, which is seen as mostly flat, all other major media have more downside than upside in the minds of some of the industry's top ad spenders.
The percentage of ad budgets expected to increase over the next six months for national newspapers, for example, is actually in the single digits - 9% - while local newspaper budget expectations aren't expected to fair much better (+11%).
The expectations for radio, broadcast TV, outdoor and magazines, meanwhile, could be described as tepid, at best. And according to API's own benchmarking analysis both magazines and outdoor media hit a "point of pessimistic transition" that began last Spring and continues through the fall survey's expectations.
"In this economy, nearly all advertisers need to know that their ad dollars are working, delivering results," Ken Pearl, once of the principals of API, explains. "So for sellers of advertising, demonstrating their media brands' ad results potential and delivery is absolutely essential."
Percentage Of Ad Budgets Expected To Change Over Next Six Months
Source: Advertiser Perceptions Inc. Fall 2008 report. Base = 1,001 advertising executives surveyed in October and November 2008.