In 2000 I was sitting at my desk wondering how I was going to save the company that I then ran – a company that relied for 75% of its revenue on online advertising. The Internet bubble had just burst in a rather spectacular way and most of our advertisers had simply stopped all forms of digital advertising.   The lack of confidence surrounding all things Internet was so deep and the roll-on effect so profound that most organizations like ours had either folded rapidly or were hurting so badly that they were teetering on the edge of folding. It was hard to see, back then, how there could be recovery from that position.

So the recently released annual ad spend forecast  from Outsell Consultancy with the statement that this is a ‘watershed moment’ for digital advertising which is predicted, for the first time, to have more money thrown its way than traditional print advertising makes interesting reading in the light of those dark days at the turn or the century!

Outsell’s report (figures for the USA only)  predicts that digital media (email, video, searches, displays, webinars, multi-media campaigns) will take up to 32.5 % of the ad spend revenue of $368 billion whilst print media will fall back to 30.3% of the market share.

Digital media will take $119.6 billion of advertisement revenue, against $111.5 billion for print while the overall consumer ad spend will rise by 1.2%.

Gathering data from over 1,000 established brands across United States, both in the consumer industry as well as the business to business segment, Outsells’ “Marketing and Ad Spending Study 2010” is the benchmark forecast of the industry advertising and marketing trends.

Outsell says that this shift in consumer preference is because “advertisers are directing dollars towards the channels, which generate the most qualified leads and the most effective branding.”

One of the reasons provided for a bigger spend on digital media is that the return on investment can be more accurately tracked than with traditional print media.

Where advertisers put their spend is still to be defined but the ‘heavies’ – Google, Yahoo, and MSN are going to see the emerging social networks pushing into their space.  Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, SlideShare, etc. are all looking at or have implemented revenue models that will rely in some way or another on advertising in the digital media space.

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