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Europe to lag behind in 2004 advertising growth spurt

LONDON - Advertising spend will rise by 4.7% globally in 2004 but Europe will lag behind the rest of the world in experiencing a recovery, according to the latest figures from ZenithOptimedia.

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The media buying agency, part of Publicis Groupe, is predicting that ad spend in Europe will rise by only 3.7%, compared with 5% in the US and 5.1% in Asia Pacific. In the UK, ZenithOptimedia is predicting growth of 3.2% next year, compared with only 1.1% this year.

However, by 2006 there will be more parity between growth rates in Europe and the US, ZenithOptimedia predicts, with growth of 4.2% and 4.4% respectively.

According to the report: "The USA is a mature advertising market, but its economic freedom relative to the sclerotic European Union means that it will sustain between 45% and 46% of global display advertising spend."

Europe's share of world ad spend has slipped from 25% to 24%, says the report.

The advertising industry has long been looking for a 2004 advertising recovery, with industry figures such as WPP Group chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell saying that it would take the boost of US presidential elections and the Olympic games, and to a lesser extent the European football championships, to see any kind of significant growth.

Recovery in the UK has already begun, with ITV arresting the decline in audience share. ZenithOptimedia predicts that the Euro 2004 will push UK television revenues up 4% next year, and that outdoor advertising will rocket by 8%. However, UK press advertising will see only marginal increases.

In the US, with the elections still 11 months away, potential candidates and political groups have already started to fight the battle for votes over the country's airwaves and in newspapers. With the Democrat candidate not yet named, liberals are pushing a general anti-Bush stance as well as backing their favoured candidates.

Meanwhile the president's supporters are flagging up his achievements over the past four years.

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