A graph that made me laugh

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.

Graph 1

Graph 2

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/reesgareth Gareth Rees

    A well made point, and I would expect that all media folk working in online/internet/new media (and hopefully most of those working offline as well) will take the IAB’s announcement with a large dose of salt.

    Although probably not intended, we should all be looking to avoid any possibility that these figures could be interpreted as one channel bashing another, at a time when we should be pushing to demonstrate the value of advertising as a whole.

    It’s undeniably hit the headlines though – even my missus mentioned it to me yesterday and until now I hadn’t realised that she even knew what I did for a living!

  • jacqueline steel

    What a sexist remark. Annoyed me almost as much as the IAB’s announcement.

  • Poyani Desai

    May be its time for tv to flex its muscle and show who’s the boss and to take stock of all the advertising penny and make a grand announcement. Internet complements TV and it should not even try to take it head-on specially when it has different formats like Search and Display

  • Poyani Desai

    It would be also interesting to watch out for Product Placement to be allowed on British TV shows and then how the dynamics changes. It is pegged to become £100mn a year category.

  • Lisa England

    Spend is pretty meaningless – what about effectiveness/ROI?


    @Lisa, exactly. TV can make an excellent case for itself, as you’ll find here: http://www.thinkbox.tv/server/show/nav.736
    But we also say, almost religiously, that it is even better in combination with other media – online marketing in particular – as proven by the IPA and others.

    The IAB has crowned itself the victor in a race with rules only it has created and that only it is running. But even by its own rules, it seems to have suffered from a bit of premature enunciation

  • Poyani Desai

    Ofcourse that is a very important issue. However Spends and Effectiveness are 2 different issues.

    But such articles will create flutters amongst the marketing fraternity based on a false alarm. Senior and junior execs in the marketing teams will reconsider their budgets since they will think that rest of the advertisings are shifting budgets from tv to internet

  • John Gallen

    Good post. Good points, well made.

    Hey Gareth, I didn’t think there was anything sexist in your remark. Anyone that takes offence from your comment probably reads polarised nonsense like LadyGeek.

  • a man

    I never realised it was sexist to have a wife, but I stand corrected. Thank you darlin’.

  • jacqueline steel

    Gareth (and John) have you ever seen the Harry Enfield sketch where the ‘sweet little wife’ (to paraphrase) “knows nothing about my husband’s complex business … but I do know that I love fluffy kittens.”
    You two indeed live in a world where us women — SHOULD KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
    Youtube it. I’m sure you’ll have a laugh.
    Best regards.

  • John Gallen

    Hi Jacqueline, I know those sketches and they are very funny. And anyone that takes offence from them, can’t take a joke. I also like jokes that make men out to be stupid :)

  • Kevin Gordon

    Hi Tess,
    Thanks for the barcharts and your blog.
    I’m in agreement with the ROI Mob.
    No return on investment is a waste of money.
    I’m sure you’ll plant your Daffodils in good soil.