LONDON: Online advertising expenditure in the UK increased by 4.6% in the first half of this year, to £1.75 billion ($2.80bn; €1.91bn), as the medium overtook television in terms of total ad revenues generated for the first time, according to the IAB.

Warc has previously forecast that 2009 would be the year when web adspend surpassed that for TV, as all forms of “traditional” media are struggling in the financial crisis.

Figures from the IAB, produced in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Warc, show that total advertising spend in Britain fell by 16.6% in the period from January to June.

This means the web now holds a 23.5% share of the market, a global high, and a result the IAB said can partly be attributed to a “significant restructure of marketing budgets” during the recession.

More specifically, the industry body argued advertisers are attempting to mirror the changing habits of consumers, and looking to use the most accountable form of media in the downturn.

Eva Berg-Winters, of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said "a slowing economy has accelerated the migration to digital technology, and hence the continuing shift from more traditional forms of advertising to online, which promises return on investment and measurability in a period of instability.”

Paid-for search recorded an uptick of 6.8% during the opening six months of 2009 on an annual basis, to a total of £1.05bn, or 59.8% of all web outlay.

Classifieds also grew by 10.6%, to £385 million, a share of 22%, despite the impact of the downturn on the property, automotive and recruitment sectors, which are among the biggest users of this channel.

Display, by contrast, registered a decline of 5.2%, to £316.5m, or 18.1% of the market, with the technology sector contributing 19.1% of revenues, a figure falling to 13.3% for telecoms, and 11.9% for finance.

Marketers in the entertainment and media segment were responsible for a further 11.8% of display ad sales, with consumer goods brands increasing their proportion of the total by 1.9%, to 8.1%, as “FMCG marketers steadily increased digital budgets.”

Guy Phillipson, chief executive of the IAB, said “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.”

“We have a rollercoaster of a year ahead but even in tough economic conditions marketers still recognise the value, accountability and measurability of online advertising.”

Internet video is also estimated to have enjoyed a 195% improvement year-on-year, as more brands started to experiment with this platform.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by WARC staff