Painting a true picture of the Net’s ad industry

Over the past year we’ve seen a great deal of news about Internet advertising, thousands of column inches speculating on future expenditure levels – from bullish visions of the future to knee-jerk backlashes of unfounded conservatism.

All of this set against a background where some marketers still do not understand that, just like outdoor or television, the Internet is a powerful brand building tool, and that generating traffic through click-through is simply an additional benefit.

In addition, there’s confusion about some of the fundamentals, such as the size of the online advertising market. Since 1997 there’s been a programme to track and quantify the size of the medium and the next set of results are now being compiled.

The Internet Advertising Bureau retains PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out this independent audit, taking data from major online media owners before aggregating it by industry sector and different creative formats.

Now the IAB is extending the project to cover the new digital marketing platforms of SMS, iTV, wireless and e-mail. The IAB is calling for companies advertising on these platforms to take part in the project to create trackable benchmark data focusing on the number of participating companies, the effectiveness of each platform, and the amount of advertising expenditure.

The results will be endorsed by the Advertising Association and will be included in the Advertising Statistics Yearbook. The survey is part of the IAB’s campaign to provide brand owners and the advertising community with accurate, accountable data and to set standards that prove the Internet’s effectiveness as an advertising medium.

For the first time, the industry will see market share performances against other media as well as top-line spend figures, the growth patterns of advertising categories and the role of banners versus other online advertising tools.

Will this end speculation? Of course it won’t, but it will give the industry a clear and secure idea about where the market really is today. And that is good news for all of us.

Danny Meadows-Klue is chairman of the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau

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