Facebook, Google set for adspend growth

27 May 2009

NEW YORK: Facebook, Google and the Wall Street Journal's online portal are among the major US web properties set to see the highest rates of growth in adspend this year, while MySpace, Microsoft and AOL will all register double-digit declines, according to a forecast from Cowen & Co.

Facebook's ad sales will post an upturn of around 70% in 2009 on an annual basis, with display spending on the site reaching $500 million (€359m; £315m), says Cowen, a figure that is largely in line with the social media pioneer's own predictions.

The company has also just received an investment of $200m from Russian firm Digital Sky Technologies for a 1.96% stake, valuing its preferred stock at $10bn – down from $15bn when Microsoft invested $240m in 2007 – showing it still requires a range of revenue streams at present.

Among the other internet services likely to enjoy an improvement this year is WSJ.com, which has recently announced a "micropayments" scheme in an effort to boost content revenues, and will see marketers increase their outlay by 20% this year.

Google's global ad revenues will also rise by 7% in 2009, with its US search sales increasing by 4%, and it is predicted the Mountain View-based company will hold a 33% share of the online ad market in 2010.

This compares with a 12% share for both Yahoo and various newspaper websites by this date, the latter of which will have seen their proportion of sector spending fall from 17% in 2003.

Yahoo's display revenues will also decrease by 16% this year, with figures for Microsoft and MySpace also likely to tumble by the same amount.

AOL's search and display sales will similarly slide by an average of 14. 5% in 2009, while eBay and Shopping.com will post a decline of 37%.

Among the newspaper portals, the various properties owned by the New York Times will register a drop off of 6%, while Gannett's news titles will fare even worse, down 20%.

Overall, Cowen predicts US online adspend will fall 6% this year, to $22 billion, but the medium's market share will increase by 0.7%, to 9.4%, in 2009.

When web advertising becomes more consolidated – and based on a historical analysis of the growth of the TV ad market – the company argues it will come to take a 25% share of the global ad market, 15% of which will be held by search.

Google is set to increase its share of the worldwide ad market from around 4% to over 10% as part of this process, as the company tightens its grip on the search sector.

Twitter, one of the fastest-growing online properties in terms of user numbers, has previously stated an intention to develop alternative sources of revenue rather than adopt an advertiser-funded model.

However, Gartner analyst Allen Weiner warns that the two-year old microblogging portal's strategy is a risky one, as it has " no current revenue stream to balance the costs" of its rapid expansion.

Data sourced from PaidContent/Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff