Some things just aren’t predictable, like the coronavirus, now dubbed Covid-19, and its growing impact.
Which is why the ad forecasting business can be so difficult.
Think back to early December, when the major agency forecasters issued their first detailed predictions for ad expenditures for 2020. The virus wasn’t on anybody’s radar screen, but it’s been dominating the headlines for the last two months.
The main factors back in December had to do with a global economy that was perceived to be weakening somewhat, off-set a bit by special events like the presidential election year and the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Now, we’re not even sure if there will be an Olympics.
Back in December, the forecast consensus was about 4% global ad growth for 2020.
In the next couple of weeks, I think you’ll see a bunch of forecast revisions issued taking into account the Covid-19 impact. Zenith forecaster Jonathan Barnard told The Wall Street Journal it would be revising its forecast shortly. It’s a safe bet that others will soon follow.
James McDonald, nanaging editor, WARC Data, noted last week that the group has yet to amend its forecast in light of the virus crisis. He summed up the current situation this way: “Advertising's relationship with GDP is strong, but a slowdown in economic output as a result of the virus will not necessarily translate into reduced advertising investment. If events such as the Tokyo Olympics and UEFA Euro 2020 tournament are postponed or cancelled, however, we would expect a notable impact."
In other words, stay tuned, because today’s 2020 ad forecast may be outdated a week from now. Or even tomorrow.