IAB says online ad growth slowed to 4.2% in 2009

The growth in online advertising spend slowed last year as the global recession hit digital marketing budgets.

UK internet advertising expenditure grew 4.2% year on year to £3.5bn in 2009 compared to a 17.1% uplift in 2008, according to the bi-annual survey by the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

However, retail and consumer goods entered the top five biggest display category spenders for the first time in the study’s history, accounting for 12% and 10.1% of total spend respectively. Telecoms, and entertainment and media were the biggest spenders, on 15.6% and 15.5% respectively.

IAB chief executive Guy Phillipson (pictured) says the 4.8% increase is still a “strong” performance “at a time when marketing budgets were under severe pressure”.

Paid search again took the largest share of online advertising spend. Investment increased by 9.5% to £2.15bn and paid search increased its share from 59.3% in 2008 to 59.7% last year.

Display ad spend dipped by 4.37% to £709.3m but showed an improvement in the second half. Expenditure was £374.7m between July and December, compared to £334.6m in the second half of 2009.

Classified spend dropped by 5.3% to £677.4m, hit by the downturn in the recruitment market.

Despite the slowdown in growth, most estimates show that online advertising outperformed all other media channels last year and is expected todo so again in 2010.

Graham Cooke, managing director of QuBit Digital and a former Google executive, says online has prospered throughout the economic decline “as it remains a measurable and accountable media”.

He adds: “As the growth of the online population levels out, businesses will need to focus on measurement and optimisation to continue to see online advertising grow at a good pace”.

Latest from Marketing Week

Mark Ritson investigates: Recreational marijuana

After probing America’s newest industry four key questions spring to mind: Which will be the big marijuana brands of the future? Why does scale drive ad effectiveness? What day is it? And, why have my legs stopped working?


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here