UK advertisers spend more on internet than TV

The United Kingdom has become the first major economy in which advertisers spend more on internet advertising than television, with a record £1,75-billion spent online in the first six months of the year.

It is a watershed for the embattled TV industry, which has been the leading ad medium in the UK for almost half a century. It has taken the internet little more than a decade to overtake it.

UK advertisers spent £1,75-billion on internet advertising in the six months to the end of June, a 4,6% increase year on year, according to a report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 1998, when the IAB first measured internet advertising, just £19,4-million was spent online.

The internet now accounts for 23,5% of all advertising money spent in the UK, whereas TV ad spending accounts for 21,9%.

The IAB originally predicted that internet ad spending would overtake TV at the end of 2009; but the crippling advertising recession accelerated this by six months.
TV advertising spending fell about 17% year on year in the first half of the year, to about £1,6-billion, according to the report.

The IAB’s figures show that of the total of £1,75-billion spent on internet advertising, £1,05-billion, or 60%, was spent on search advertising on websites, including Google, up 6,8% year on year.

Online classified advertising grew by 10,6% year on year to £385-million, about 22% of total internet advertising spending. But online display advertising, such as banners on websites, fell by 5,2% year on year, to £316,5-million. This was 18% of all internet advertising spending.

The ray of light in the online display ad sector was the nascent, but rapidly growing, online video advertising sector. The IAB estimated that this grew by close to 300% year on year, to almost £12-million.

Thinkbox, the UK TV marketing body, has taken exception to the IAB’s figures, arguing that the internet is now mature and diverse, and it is inaccurate to collate all the figures as though it is a single medium.

Adam Smith, futures director at WPP’s combined media operation, Group M, said that the internet’s share of total UK ad spending could be close to its peak.

The UK is not the first country where internet ad spending has overtaken TV—Denmark reached the milestone about six months ago. But it is the first major economy to do so.—

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