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Property adspend plunges

Property advertising, the largest advertising spending category in the country, dropped by more than two thirds during the final quarter of last year.

Property advertising, the largest advertising spending category in the country, dropped by more than two thirds during the final quarter of last year, according to data collected by the Pan Arab Research Center (PARC). The sharp drop in developer spending from US$80 million (Dh293.8m) in October to $25m in December, combined with reduced advertising from the financial sector, helped to pull down total advertising spending growth rates in the last quarter, mirroring a wider trend in the Middle East region. "The number of spots in the UAE has been reduced, mainly in the property and financial sectors," said Elie Jichi, the operation and production manager at PARC. Newspapers and outdoor advertisers felt this reduction the most, with Nakheel, the developer that had spent the most on outdoor advertising in the first three quarters, falling off the list of the top dozen outdoor spenders by the fourth quarter. While Deyaar Development held its spot as the second-highest newspaper advertising spender, all other major developers on the list, including Nahkeel, Emaar, Sherwoods Independent Property Consultants, Landmark Properties and Better Homes, slid down the newspaper spending rankings in the fourth quarter. Emaar dropped the most, registering a 5 per cent fall compared with 2007, despite having spent more than $8m in newspaper advertising last year. "Before, papers were more than 120 pages, with a lot of advertising, but now all of this is reduced," Mr Jichi said. The dismal fourth quarter capped an otherwise bustling year in the UAE's media market, which saw total advertising spending up 44 per cent in the first three quarters compared with the same period in 2007. Much of this growth could be attributed to the explosion of media titles in the region over the past few years, Mr Jichi said. In 2005, PARC measured spending on 1,000 media titles throughout the Middle East. By last year, that number had soared to 1,800. Combine that with a steady annual increase in advertising rates of between 10 and 20 per cent, he said, and the result was a rate of advertising spending growth that would be the envy of most more developed markets. But trouble struck in October. Advertising spending in the UAE's insurance and property markets in the past quarter was only $153m, compared with an average of $163.3m a quarter in the previous three quarters. Meanwhile, spending on financial advertising dropped to $24m in the fourth quarter, after three quarters of an average of $28m a quarter. The declining figures pushed total adspend growth for the year down from 44 per cent to 40 per cent. However, the rate continues to far outpace that in the wider Middle East region, which saw adspend growth down to 24 per cent in the first three quarters from 28 per cent over the same period in 2007. Total adspend in the UAE for last year hit a record $1.98 billion, continuing the country's reign as the biggest domestic advertising market in the region. khagey@thenational.ae

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