Online Ad Sector Beats Transatlantic Slump

24 November 2008

NEW YORK/LONDON: Despite slowing momentum, online advertising on both sides of the Atlantic continues to grow in the face of the severest recession since the early 1990s.

Two different reports – stateside from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and in the UK from communications regulator Ofcom, paint pictures of a still-buoyant advertising sector.

In the US online ad revenues in Q3 neared $5.9 billion (€4.7bn; £3.98bn), a year-on-year increase of 11%, and 2% up on Q2 of this year. The IAB claims that the Q3 figure represents the second most successful quarter ever enjoyed by the industry.

In the first nine months of 2008, online ad spending reached  $17.3bn, an increase of 14% on the $15.2bn notched in 2007.

Compared with other media, the recession has yet to close its jaws on the ebullient internet although PricewaterhouseCoopers' partner David Silverman, who co-authored the latest IAB report, warns that online is unlikely to remain immune from the economic malaise.

"However," he says, "the internet should be better poised to withstand the storm given its ability to combine performance-based advertising along with broad-based branding".

  • Meantime on the other side of the pond, online advertising also remains in robust health. Ofcom (whose authority is restricted to the UK) has taken a long hard look at the communications markets in seven key markets – the USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy,  Canada and Japan, collectively worth an estimated £876 billion ($1,298bn; €1,035bn) in revenues.

    Perhaps the most significant factor to emerge from the regulator's third International Communications Market Report is online's deep incursion into the UK ad market, where it now accounts for £1 in every £5 spent – the highest penetration in any of the seven markets surveyed. 

    The report also looks at other digital media, including dTV, high definition TV and PVRs ...

    • The UK again leads in terms of dTV market penetration with 86% of households with at least one digital TV set – a nine percent increase on 2007.
    • This compares with the US where 70% of households have a digital TV (+15% year-on-year). France was next at 66%, with the highest growth during the period (+25%).
    • High Definition TV services were relatively new in 2006 but now take-up of HD subscriptions has been huge, especially in the UK, US and Canada. Take-up doubled during 2007 to around 9m subscribers across the seven larger countries surveyed.
    • Although the US has the highest number of households with HD subscriptions at 6m (6.2%) the number of HD households in Canada is nearly 2m, representing 17.6% of households. The UK leads Europe with 700,000 HD households, at 6%, higher than the combined number of HD households in France, Germany and Italy (500,000).
    • Lastly, the reports looks at digital video recorders, where the UK again leads the way in terms of penetration with 30% of people claiming to own a DVR. Elsewhere the percentages are Italy (21%), Canada and the US (20%) and Japan (just 7%). Across the seven largest countries, around 28m pay-TV homes had a DVR in 2007, up from 14m the previous year.
    The report can be downloaded by clicking here

    • Data sourced from AdWeek (USA) and Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff