British advertising spend moves online

Blighty is the first major economy where advertising spend on the Internet has overtaken that for TV, according to a new report.

According to figures provided by the Internet Advertising Bureau and auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, U.K. advertisers spent £1.75 billion ($2.8 billion) on the Internet in the first six months of the year, up 4.6%.

TV, by contrast, took $1.64 billion, down 16.1% on the same period last year.

The IAB had originally predicted that Internet ad spending would outpace TV at the end of the year, but the recession has exacerbated the problems faced by commercial broadcasters like ITV and Five, which have scaled back their workforces and program budgets as ad coin dwindled.

IAB chief exec Guy Phillipson said there was still more growth potential in U.K. Internet advertising.

But the figures were hailed as unfair by Thinkbox, the body that represents U.K. TV advertisers.

The group’s marketing director said, “It is interesting but meaningless to sweep all the money being spent on every aspect of online marketing into one big figure and celebrate it.”

Paul Richards, media analyst at investment bank Numis, said that following a disastrous year since last September when U.K. TV advertising “fell off a cliff,” the market had now stabilized.

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