Concern as above-the-line spend falls

A fall in above-the-line adspend has raised concerns about the economic prospects for advertisers and their agencies, according to the IPA's latest Bellwether Report.

Media budgets were revised downwards in the final quarter of 2004, as companies were hit by a slowdown in sales, the survey found.The result was a shift of spend from all advertising to lower-cost activities such as direct marketing.

Nevertheless, the report suggests the overall picture is positive, with marketing budgets growing for the fifth consecutive quarter - the longest period of growth ever recorded by the survey.

Jim Marshall, the chairman of the IPA futures group, cited unpredictable consumer spending as the reason for the dip at the turn of the year.

However, Chris Williamson, the report's author, said companies were more optimistic about the year ahead than at any time since 2000.