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Independent Agency Chiefs Optimistic About Business Climate;

Independent Agency Chiefs Optimistic About Business Climate;

The March 2011 Worldwide Partners Advertising Confidence Index shows that executives running independent advertising agencies worldwide are more positive across all measure of their businesses’ health than in December, with North Americans more effusive than their global counterparts.

Their view of their industry’s business conditions forecasted over the next six months of 2011 is marginally more positive from a global perspective when it comes to economic climate, new business, hiring, and agency income. However, the confidence of the North American executives, at this juncture, slips.

The WPI Advertising Confidence Index across all measures of the survey for the first quarter of 2011 is 107, with 100 being the benchmark standard established in December 2010. This indicates that agency managers feel seven percentage points more positive overall in March on a worldwide basis than at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010. In North America, the confidence index in March is 129, or 22 points higher than the global index.

Agency bosses in the Europe/Middle East/Africa are less positive across all measures compared with the global index with an overall index of 96, which means that EMEA agency executives are four percentage points less confident than the benchmark. Latin American agency managers come in at 99, or about at the norm.

“The findings of the index reflect economic trends everywhere,” says Al Moffatt, President and CEO of WPI. “In the US there is some glint of recovery, at least in the financial sector, and many public companies are reporting good quarterly results.

"However, while things may be looking up on Wall Street, businesses on Main Street aren’t feeling as flush. Also, the struggling Euro, bailouts and austerity programs seem to be putting a dent in EMEA agency confidence. This future view may be a concern to the business at large, given the predictive nature of the ad industry as an economic indicator. Time will tell.”

In terms of positive feelings about the outlook six months from now, globally the March index stands at 108, while North American index comes in at 114 compared to 129 for current conditions. The index for EMEA agency leaders is at 95 and for Latin Americans it is 94.

“Consumer confidence in the US is down 8.6%, according to the most recent Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index. Clearly, not everyone is participating in a recovery. Geography and the scale of a company are large influencers of confidence,” adds Moffatt.

Of particular note, Latin American agency managers feel the most positive about new-business opportunities 6 months from now, which reflects Latin American’s rising business and economic fortunes.

Separately, the March survey shows that 60% of the 75 global survey respondents feel that their profits on digital and interactive advertising will increase. North Americans feel the most positive about digital profits increasing, with 68% feeling such profits will increase. Fifty-five percent of those in EMEA feel digital profits will increase, compared to 57% of Latin Americans.

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