Another Hint of (Very) Cautious Optimism for the Ad Market

Published on August 13, 2009
by Peter Kafka

tunnelEconomists may be declaring that the recession is over, but declarations won’t do much for media businesses that have seen their ad dollars disappear. But here’s a bit of (very) cautiously optimistic news for them: Two reports from Wall Street research shop Sanford Bernstein noting the mildest of turnarounds.

First item: Results from Bernstein’s “Ad Tracker” index that show the rate of decline slowing in the last quarter. Bernstein figures overall ad spending dropped by 16.5 percent in Q2, which is lousy, but it’s still better than the 19.5 percent drop we saw in Q1. (Click chart to enlarge)


Second item: Bernstein thinks online ads are also going to start improving. In the chart below, see how the online ad dollars plummet, then plateau? In this economy, flat-lining like that is progress.


Even better, Bernstein predicts that the chart will start moving up, if just a bit, for the rest of the year. The firm predicts that sales will drop a mere four percent in the current quarter and be flat in the fourth quarter.

Granted, those numbers are against horrible comps, since the economy tanked in the second half of last year. And they’re not going to help everyone equally; for instance, Google (GOOG) is likely to recapture search dollars before Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO) do. But progress is progress.

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