Half of multinationals holding back adspend for six months, WFA study finds

Number of brands deferring spend has risen by eight percentage points month on month.

Loerke: 'Marketers are making significant efforts to support their agencies'
Loerke: 'Marketers are making significant efforts to support their agencies'

Almost nine in 10 (89%) multinational brands have deferred adspend and 52% are holding back spend for six months or more because of the coronavirus crisis.

These trends are leading to an expected 31% fall in global ad budgets for the year, according to a new report.

The stark reality of the ongoing economic demise is documented in the latest World Federation of Advertisers Covid-19 Response Tracker, which shows that the number of brands deferring spend has risen by eight percentage points month on month and those holding back spend has shot up by 33 percentage points.

The second wave of the study at the end of April surveyed 38 senior marketers across 17 sectors with combined global adspend of $46bn.

Despite an increase in the number of brands running some kind of crisis-response campaign (68%, up from 32% in March), the WFA said this will not compensate for the cuts being made.

It means that global ad budgets are forecast to fall 36% over the first half of the year (up from an expected 23% decline in March) and 31% for the entire year.

Traditional media continues to be expected to be the hardest hit. TV adspend is forecast to be down 33% globally between January and June, radio 25%, print 37%, out-of-home 49% and events 56%. In digital media, online video is forecast to fall 7% and online display by 14%.

Almost all (92%) of the respondents said that the current climate will have a long-term impact on the way they operate and 84% said this is an "opportunity to rethink everything in terms of our marketing organisation". A similar proportion of marketers said they have started pushing "digital transformation".

Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA, said: "Marketing leaders are fully aware that the crisis is having a major impact on their teams and their external partners. Many are making significant efforts to support their agencies by finding projects for their key people to work on while spend is low or by changing their payment terms when they can.

"Our research shows that such efforts are widespread and reflect how much brands value the contributions that agencies can make to their businesses."