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Web advertising booms

June 18, 2008|Alana Semuels | Times Staff Writer

The Interactive Advertising Bureau said Tuesday that advertisers spent $5.8 billion in the first quarter of 2008, up 18.2% from the year-earlier period. Don't they know there's a recession on?

Well, yeah, says Randall Rothenberg, president and chief executive of the trade group. That's why they're spending on interactive ads.

"In times of economic strain, marketers and agencies are under more pressure to prove their results," he said.

On the Web, advertisers know how many people clicked on their ads and how many people ignored them. That's tougher to prove in, say, something like radio. Who knows how many people listen to those awful men's hair transplant ads, and how many just turn down the volume or change the station?

The online numbers look especially good when compared with the advertising industry as a whole. On Monday, Nielsen Monitor-Plus reported that first-quarter ad spending was flat compared with the same period last year. According to Nielsen, ad spending on cable TV was up 12.9% from last year, but spot radio was down 4.9% and network TV fell 3.4%.

And the online numbers look really, really good in contrast with newspaper ad revenue, which saw the biggest-ever quarterly drop in the first quarter, according to the Newspaper Assn. of America (Blogging will save us all!). According to Bloomberg, print advertising sales fell 14% in the first quarter.

Where is all the money going? Mostly to the Internet, of course.

Here's one note of caution: Spending on Internet advertising actually dropped slightly from the previous quarter for the first time in 13 quarters. Whereas advertisers spent $5.8 billion in the first quarter, a big increase over the year-earlier period, they spent $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter.

That could be because of holiday ad spending. Or it could be because the industry is "reaching maturation," as Rothenberg says. Or, who knows, it could be because there's a recession on.



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