Coen Downgrades U.S. Ad Forecast

We noted several stories last week that reported Universal McCann’s longtime ad forecaster Bob Coen had downgraded his 2005 U.S. advertising outlook, which was issued in December 2004. The revised outlook calls for U.S. total advertrising growing by 5.7 percent and international advertising by 5.9 percent. The previous forecast called for growth of 6.4 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

Coen cited the lack of Olympic and political advertising, among other factors, for the reduction of U.S. advertising growth. We find this explanation curious, since those factors were clearly visible in December 2004. Other factors noted include higher TV prices and fear of running afoul of Sarbanes-Oxley regulators.

Whatever the cause, the downgrade may not be very significant for the directory industry, since few if any of the cited causes will have a major impact on print or online Yellow Pages. Rather than fear the uncontrollable, the directory business should remain focused on its core challenges, which include finding a relevant position in a rapidly changing marketplace.

There are some signs of success, or at least hopefulness, out there. The Dayton (Ohio) Business Journal just profiled local company Berry Co. The article notes that Berry is considering building a new call center, in large part to handle the additional capacity it will take on to handle sales of YellowPages.com, which is co-owned by Berry’s parent, BellSouth.

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