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Advertising’s digital coming of age

All About Brands plc advertising director, Graham Anderson, looks at the inexorable rise of internet adspend.

The economic environment has penalised the marketing services sector, knocking advertising particularly hard. But online marketing is bucking the trend and quite significantly.

Spending on internet advertising in the UK topped £3.5 billion in 2009, and for the first time outstripped television adspend. It was a first, not only in the UK, but internationally. And this capped an extraordinary decade when, in 2000, internet adspend topped £153m. In other words, online advertising grew by 2,200 per cent.

What does this mean for businesses? Well, the simple truth is your money goes a lot further and you’re able to target audiences more precisely through online advertising than other more traditional means of advertising. It’s certainly no coincidence that we’re seeing a significant uptake in online campaigns for our clients, especially in a straitened economic times when digital campaigns can provide better ROI.

If nothing else, this recession, like others before, is helping to sort the chaff from the grain. The demise of established but struggling brands such as Habitat is one impact. Another is the unleashing of technology. This is the first recession of the digital age and the solid increase in internet adspend tells us that some quarters of the media arena are holding up.

This has not been a transition that traditional marketing agencies and media players have managed well, let alone businesses and clients who turn to agencies to help navigate them through the marketing landscape.

Those who were slow to understand and respond to the changing technologies and consumer habits are being punished severely. Take ITV. A truly great brand, it made a play in the new digital world by buying Friends Reunited, but it failed to have a compelling vision for the social networking site and sold it on in 2009 after just four years, losing a cool £100m in the process.

And so, internet adspend is only set to increase. Those who have been skittish about apportioning advertising spend, will now become much bolder in choosing the web over other channels. And this will put in to long term jeopardy traditional marketing agencies and media providers, such as ITV. The internet has truly come of age.

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