I’m supposed to be having a day off. Fat chance.
You might have noticed a story put out by our cousins at the IAB that claims online advertising has now overtaken TV to become the ‘biggest single advertising medium in the UK’ (by spend). We find the IAB’s story odd because the internet is not a single anything; it is a fantastic technology that is home to many different marketing activities that do different things. It even delivers TV. It is a pretty meaningless statistic but it has garnered plenty of headlines and no small amount of apocalyptic predictions. Journalists expect us to respond, so here I am blogging instead of planting my daffs.
As I have said many times before, I love the internet. I love the way that it complements TV – nothing else works better. I love the way people can respond instantly to TV ads via search and websites; I love the way social media helps make the buzz around TV programmes so visible and so much more fun. I’m happy for online advertising to increase – so long as it is not at TV’s expense. And so far it isn’t. (I can almost hear your eyebrows rising at this point).
That’s the depressing part of this story; the implication that online advertising is taking broadcast TV’s money is just not true. Last year broadcast TV spot advertising declined 2.9% compared to total advertising declines of 4.2% and display declines of 5%. Not the spectacular share growth of online maybe but growth nonetheless and in the horrific ad market that is 2009 the same pattern is emerging; TV and online are increasing their shares, mostly at the expense of print and DM, though print remains the biggest overall advertising medium, not online.
If the IAB can’t resist making comparisons with TV then the fairest would be to compare all forms of online display with all forms of broadcast TV – spot, sponsorship, AFP, Interactive etc. – not an easy number to get hold of because TV has never bothered to lump its own advertising revenues together. TV would never try to compare itself with any form of classified advertising, DM or search because it wouldn’t make any sense.
Anyway, Thinkbox’s thoughts on this are already out there so I won’t repeat them all here.
But I would like to draw your attention to The Guardian’s coverage of the story today. They produced a little graph that made me laugh (it isn’t online though). Along the x axis we had a list of advertising sectors, each with a bar representing revenue that got a bit taller as it went along. We had cinema, radio (spot only), business magazines, consumer magazines, directories, outdoor, national newspapers, press classified, direct mail, regional newspapers, press display, television (spot only), and then…internet. Just internet. No more explanation than that.
We think these numbers would be more meaningfully represented in one of two ways, either by technology/platform or by the genuine distinctive advertising sectors . We’ve had a go, based just on the IAB’s figures. Take your pick.