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31/01/2008 - par Mark Tungate

Ascary photo on the cover of the International ­Herald Tribune the other day showed a Wall Street dealer staring anxiously at his screen, while behind him a line graph plotted plunging stock prices. America is ­talking itself into a recession, which means that Europe will probably get one too. Naturally, the first thing I asked myself was : what does this mean for me ? But I've been through recessions before, and I've never starved.

The second question I asked is : what will happen to the advertising industry ? Sir Martin Sorrell famously described recessions as « bath-shaped with deep corrugations ». That is totally irrelevant to this piece, but I like the sound of it. Sir Martin also knows that recessions separate the men from the boys, media-wise. Now we'll find out whether the fuss advertisers have been making about blogs, social networking and user-generated content is solid, froth, or one big bubble. With pressure on their budgets, will advertisers continue to divert money from traditional media like TV and print to web 2.0 ? It's clear that casual bloggers who've mopped up spare advertising cash during the bubble will find themselves poorer. But direct marketing and word-of-mouse offer good value for money during a downturn, so bloggers with a genuine brand, loyal readers and compelling content should be taken along for the ride. It's the usual story : during a recession, the best brands emerge stronger than ever.

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