The European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA) says that the sharp decline in business confidence in the sector appears to have halted in its latest European Advertising Business Climate Index.
The new report shows that business confidence in the ad industry increased from +2 in July 2017 to +3 in October 2017, following a first half fall of 16 points.
It comes after a stressful start to the year with a number of major advertisers and agencies voicing concerns about digital media with fraud and brand safety issues, measurement mistakes and fake news coming to the fore. Major advertisers including Procter & Gamble's Marc Pritchard and Unilever's Keith Weed have called for more transparency and control.
However, confidence remains negative in three of the four countries holding the largest shares of the advertising market in Europe, despite levels improving quarter on quarter. The UK improved its confidence level from -29 to -17.9, Italy from -21 to -5 whereas France has stayed the same at -5.
In contrast, business confidence in Germany rose from +23 to +29. Despite the more positive reading for the UK in October compared to July 2017, it is still the lowest confidence reading of all the EU member states according to the latest results. Germany, on the other hand, reports the highest level in Europe in October 2017.
Sweden, Denmark and Germany top the list of the most confident countries polled, while the UK, Cyprus and Italy were the least confident.
However, low levels of confidence do not appear to have had an adverse effect on expenditure. Media agency ZenithOptimedia reported in September that Western Europe ad spend will increase by 1.8% in 2017, with the UK up 0.7%, Germany 1.3%, France 2.2% and the Netherlands an increase of some 3.9% year on year.
The EACA report also notes that the employment situation in the ad industry seems better than before: the evolution of employment over the past three months has climbed from -1 to +5. Consequently, the increase in employment has improved the overall business landscape.