Interpublic: Social Is Fastest Growing Emerging Medium; Search Is Slowing

Warning that the "hyper acceleration" of some of the fastest growing emerging media platforms - including search, social media, online video, gaming, interactive TV, and digital out-of-home - appear to be slowing, Interpublic's Magna Global unit this morning released an outlook that nonetheless called for a 31.1% rate of growth for emerging media in 2009. While a relative slowdown for the new forms of ad-supported media, it is markedly better than the tepid 4.0% rate of growth another Interpublic unit, Universal McCann, predicts for traditional ad-supported media during 2009.

The twin forecasts, which were delivered by Magna's Brian Wieser and Universal McCann's Bob Coen, respectively, were part of Interpublic's so-called "mid-year update" for the advertising industry's economic outlook.

In taking his first stab at an outlook for next year, Coen said, "I don't think 2009 is going to be a great year," but added, "It can't get much worse." By much worse, Coen was referring to his revised outlook for U.S. ad spending growth in 2008 and his final estimate for 2007, which he now pegs at +2.0% and -0.7%, respectively.

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Those estimates are downgrades from slightly more robust projections issued by Coen in December, and the Universal McCann Director of Forecasting attributed the cutbacks to reduced economic expectations.

Among the major media, Coen projected Internet display advertising would grow the fastest this year, rising 12.0% over 2007, about three times the rate of all national ad-supported media combined.

The Internet's growth, however, will not be coming from its endemic marketers - so-called "dot-com" advertisers - which will actually reduce their total advertising spending this year by 7.1% from 2007, marking the second consecutive year the category has scaled back.

While growing of a much smaller base, Magna's Wieser said emerging media nonetheless appear to be slowing down, especially online search, which he projects will grow only 24.0% next year. While still healthy by traditional media ad growth standards, Wieser said it represents a slowdown from 26.5% growth in 2007 and 29.5% in 2006.

The fastest growing of the emerging media platforms tracked by Magna, he said, is social media, which includes both social networks and applications like ad-supported widgets. Wieser estimated that social media ad spending would rise 37.4% in 2009, thought that is nearly half the 60.8% rate it is expected to grow in 2008.

Copies of both Wieser's and Coen's complete reports can be found here.

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