U.S. execs eye rising advertising in emerging markets

It’s crystal clear why U.S. showbiz congloms are jockeying to expand overseas.

According to new stats by Nielsen, emerging markets including Latin America, the Middle East and Africa saw advertising coin grow sharply in the first three months of the year in all major categories, even newspapers, which have been battered in North America.

Television ad spend in the Middle East and Africa grew a whopping 34%, according to Nielsen’s quarterly Global AdView Pulse report, vs. 7.5% in Latin America and 4% in North America.

CEO after CEO, from Time Warner, News Corp., Viacom, CBS and Walt Disney, to Discovery Communications and Scripps Interactive, have said they’re tired of bumping up against each other in the domestic market and have extolled overseas expansion. Some, like Scripps, have inked deals, others, like Discovery, have ramped up organic growth. All are trolling for acquisitions.

“A number of emerging markets feel a lot like the U.S. in the 1990s,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in New York recently. “It’s very advantageous to be in the content business when you have subscriber growth,” which is tough to come by in a saturated market like the U.S.

Time Warner CEO Bewkes has made international expansion one of the company’s four core operating objectives for 2012. That included a run for Dutch television producer Endemol and a close look at Turkey’s Sabah-ATV.

While TV continues to attract the majority of advertising dollars, online is growing the fastest. Internet ad spend surged 35% in the Middle East and Africa, 32% in Latin America and 12% in Europe.

The total global advertising spend rose 3.1%.

“With consumer confidence up and brands looking to reconnect, it’s no surprise that spending on advertising is on the rise, around the globe and across media types,” Nielsen said, perhaps a bit too brightly given the shaky economy Stateside and complete financial chaos in Europe. But it does appear that other regions shook off U.S. and Euro zone doldrums to grow at a zippy pace, from a lower base.

Nielsen said radio spending increased in every region around the globe, including a hefty 21% hike in the Middle East and Africa and an 18% gain in Latin America. There was a bump of 2.6% in North America and 2.8% in Europe.

Magazines saw a minor decline worldwide compared to last year, but newspapers grew 3.1%.

In Latin America, magazine spending grew 7.6% and newspapers rose 10.3%. In Asia Pacific, both categories were up, 3.6% and 5.4%, respectively. North America saw nominal declines in print ad spend.

Outdoor advertising increased 6.4% globally year over year with gains of 45% in the Middle East and Africa, 21% in Asia Pacific and 4.4% in North America, Only Europe nosed down, with a 1.2% dip.

Cinema advertising spend jumped 27% in Asia Pacific, offsetting declines in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

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