Global ad spend to pass pre-financial crisis peak - Zenith

LONDON, April 7 Sun Apr 6, 2014 7:01pm EDT

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) - Global advertising spending will grow over the next three years at levels not seen since the start of the financial crisis, leading media buyer ZenithOptimedia said on Monday.

Ad spending is expected to steadily improve, with growth rates forecast to hit 5.5 percent in 2014, 5.8 percent in 2015 and 6.1 percent in 2016.

For this year, spending will be boosted by key events such as the soccer World Cup, the Winter Olympics and the U.S. mid-term elections, the three major events seen raising revenues at the world's largest advertising groups such as Martin Sorrell's WPP, Omnicom and Publicis.

Improvements in the global economy mean ad spending levels over the next three years are now forecast to beat those recorded in the build-up to the financial crisis in 2008.

According to Zenith, ad rates in 2006 grew 6.4 percent, 6.5 percent in 2007 and by 0.3 percent in 2008.

Zenith said the total amount of media spend will reach up to $537 billion at the end of 2014, driven by an improved global economic outlook and the rapid rise of mobile advertising.

"Advertisers are gaining in confidence as the world economy returns to stable growth," said Steve King, CEO Worldwide of ZenithOptimedia, the forecasting unit of Publicis Groupe .

Zenith said that the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers was helping mobile advertising grow six times faster than Internet ads accessed via a desktop, with growth forecast at 50 percent per year between 2013 and 2016.

Recovery in the Euro zone will also lift the industry, after spending there fell 15 percent since the financial crisis began.

Ad expenditures in the euro zone is expected to grow 0.7 percent in 2014, achieving its first year of growth since 2010, after shrinking 3 percent in 2013.

Zenith also forecast that developing markets will increase their share of the advertising spend over the next two years to 39 percent from 35 percent, with China overtaking Japan as the world's second largest advertising market in 2016 after the United States. (Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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