One More Point on an Ad Slowdown
How the dollars flow—or rather don't flow—in any downturn can shape events in ways obscured until much later. As strange as it sounds today, the tech bust that started in 2000 meant that total dollars spent on online display advertising declined 21% between 2001 and 2002. And as strange as it sounds today, many established media organizations used that decline as a rationale for deemphasizing the Web in favor of their traditional businesses—and underinvestment allowed all manner of Web-only startups to outflank them in the one medium that's still growing. While online display ads will still be up in '09, says BMO Capital Markets analyst Leland Westerfield, that growth rate will likely slow. Look for search advertising to hold up, so Google should be hurt the least.In other words, the reaction to a business slowdown sometimes takes some time to manifest. Don't expect the web to escape, though given the more favorable economics (no paying for paper or print) it could be that publishers will emphasize online even more than they are now. One analyst is predicting a 5.5 percent pullback in ad spending, which is worse than it sounds because markets expect business to increase, so the perceived drop from expectations could run closer to 10 percent, causing executives to worry (stock performance being seen as a reflection of their efforts) and cut expenses even more.
There's nothing you can do about ad slowdowns themselves. Just look for alternative work or sectors that aren't likely to be hit as hard. The main thing is to start pushing now to find alternatives. If you know that things might slow down more significantly in a couple of months, that gives you some time to react.