Adland’s crystal balls are well and truly broken

So how long did it take for the world’s advertising outlook to turn to mush? Less than seven months if this week’s dramatically revised forecasts by Carat are anything to go by.

The last time the Aegis agency kindly shoneits specialist light onto global ad spend was 27 August 2008. Back then, the agency cautiously downgraded its 2009 worldwide prediction from 4.9% growth to 4.8%.One winter, seven months and several bank collapses later, and the picture is decidedly darker.

Carat now expects global ad spend to fall 5.8% this year, with drops in every major market except China.More specifically, rather than the UK enjoying2.2% growthtipped last summer, we cannow expect the market to contract7.1%, according to the agency; a huge revision withfar reachingimplications.And manybelieve it’s still optimistic.

Let’s not forget this already follows drops of 5.5% in UK ad spend in 2008, the biggest decline of any major market other than Spain.

Of course, Carat’sjust the first of many advertising forecasters set to be woefully out of kilter in 2009,underlining thespeed with whichadvertising conditions deteriorated in thesecond half of 2008.

But you can hear the resignation of a lead agencybaffled whenthe normally bullishCEO of Aegis Media, Jerry Buhlmann, cushions this latest report withthe disclaimer “of course, these predictions themselves are just that: our best guess at this point in time, in a market we know to be uncertain”.