Ad Spending Reduction Predicted Again, but Record Remains Possible

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NEW YORK -- Madison Avenue's leading forecaster has for a second time reduced his estimate of how much marketers will spend this year to advertise in the United States. But the reduction is small, and he still expects a spending record.

Robert J. Coen, senior vice president and forecasting director at the McCann-Erickson USA advertising agency, said Tuesday that he expected advertising spending in 1996 to total $172.8 billion. That represents an increase of 7.4 percent from his final figure for 1995 spending of $160.9 billion.

In June 1995, Coen initially predicted that spending in 1996 would be $175 billion. In December, he trimmed that to $174.1 billion.

"The media marketplace is just as good as it appeared to be in December," Coen said, "and the downward reduction is modest. The positive outlook I had for 1996 continues, for the most part, to hold up."

He said he had lowered the figure again "mainly because of the government shutdown and strikes within the first quarter" of the year, as well as the severe winter weather, which was a bit of a brake on ad spending.

Coen offered his predictions at a seminar sponsored by McCann, a unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies, at the University Club in midtown Manhattan.

It was the 23rd annual midyear forecast for advertising spending by Coen, who has been tracking media and marketing trends since 1948; he issues forecasts twice a year, in June and in December.

The Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the elections will increase ad sales this year by about $1 billion, Coen said. And they "stir up the pot and heat up the bidding" by other advertisers for commercial time and advertising space, he added. …