Ad spending looking better

NEW YORK — A leading ad-industry forecaster projects a “marginally better” outlook for U.S. ad spending than predicted six months ago, but still figures on a modest 2% gain for network TV.

Bob Coen, exec VP at the McCann-Erickson ad agency and longtime prognosticator of ad trends, expects the Big Four networks to grow 2% this year to $13.3 billion, despite a surprising 8.1% jump in the first quarter. Absent the Olympics and elections, comparisons are more difficult vs. 1996.

But total national TV spending should grow 4.8%, to nearly $31 billion, and local TV ad revenues should climb 5% to $11.5 billion, Coen said. Spot TV sales are expected to nudge 2% higher to $10 billion, after a disappointing first quarter, with cable up a robust 18% to $5.28 billion and syndication up 6.5% to $2.36 billion.

Total U.S. ad spending will be up 6.2% to $186 billion, a more bullish estimate than earlier, and preliminary tracking on 1998 spending has U.S. totals up 5.6% to $196.5 billion, helped by the winter Olympics.

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