M&S and HSBC lead the way as online adverts rise 21%

Online advertising shrugged off the pain gripping the wider industry and leapt 21 per cent in the first four months of the year, driven by high-profile campaigns from big-name advertisers including Marks & Spencer and HSBC.

Nielsen Online, the specialist research firm, yesterday revealed that despite increased pressure on the traditional ad industry, the number of online advertisers had risen a fifth to 5,900. Display ad campaigns rose the same to 11,000 between January and April.

The World Advertising Research Centre said in March that while the total advertising spend had fallen 3.9 per cent in the UK last year, online revenues were up 17.3 per cent.

Alex Burmaster, communications director at Nielsen, said the jump in online activity – it is up 47 per cent on 2006 – comes as the cost of internet campaigns falls and marketing managers desire more "measurability" of consumers.

The rise in ad campaigns was driven by companies from the retail and financial sectors, which made up almost a quarter of all the advertising reported in the first four months.

M&S was the dominant advertiser in the retail sector, followed by Tesco. Following HSBC in online banking advertisements was Barclays. Hilton was the biggest tourism advertiser, and Renault's promotion of the Megane was the biggest in the automotive sector.

Mr Burmaster said: "The strong increase in the level of display advertising activity is reason enough for online publishers and media owners to be optimistic about the year ahead."

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