Web retires TV as UK's biggest ad medium

Advertisers spent more of their harder to earn cash on the internet than on the television industry for the first time in the UK’s history in the six months to June.

Online advertising spend grew 4.6 per cent in this year’s first half to a record £1.75billion, replacing television as the nation’s single biggest ad medium.

The figures, from the Internet Advertising Bureau, represent the first time a major economy has invested more in search, classified and display ads than 30-second spots.

In its report, the bureau said the Web now accounts for 23.5 per cent of all ad money spent in the UK, while TV ad spend now accounts for 21.9 per cent of those budgets.

The subtext is that, alongside the recession, there has been a significant restructure of marketing budgets led by advertisers following their audiences online, the IAB said.

While this trend may have happened with no downturn, advertisers reported looking at the internet for offering a more measurable and accountable form of advertising.

And although this migration to the Web was already foreseen, the recession explains why its overtaking of TV did not start late last year, as the IAB predicted.

Pointing to the economic woes, the institute said that, despite the internet’s resilience, the entire advertising sector contracted by 16.6% during the first six months of 2009.

“Internet advertising has beaten all expectations to achieve growth in the most challenging market conditions,” said Guy Phillipson, IAB’s chief executive

“Online display has performed notably well against its peers in TV, print and radio despite more than £1.5 billion being wiped off the advertising industry.”

Online display was down 5.2% year-on-year, compared with double digit declines for other media, to £316.5m, equating to an 18.1% share of all online ad revenues.

But paid-for adverts, which account for 60% of spending on the Web, grew 6.8% to £1.05bn, and classifieds grew by 10.6% to £385m, in spite of the slump in the property, recruitment and automotive sectors.

Alongside these tried and tested methods of internet marketing, the nascent space of online video ads grew 195% on last year, showing brands are willing to experiment in the drive to engage consumers.

However, it is the diversity and maturity of the internet as an ad channel that is leading to claims from TV marketers that categorising it as a single platform, comparable to TV, is inaccurate.


1st October 2009

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