The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers have released their semiannual report on the state of Internet advertising. Overall Internet advertising in the first half of 2009 declined by 5.3% compared to the same period, coming in at $10.9 billion. However, search continues to ride out the economic downturn by increasing 1.7% to $5.15 billion.
"While the overall advertising market has continued to be impacted by current economic conditions, marketers are allocating more of their dollars to digital media for its accountability and because consumers are spending more of their leisure time online," said David Silverman, PwC Assurance partner.
The news is good for an industry that has weathered the current economic woes better than most - especially its traditional advertising predecessor.
"We are in one of the most difficult economic slumps in decades. Interactive is one of the advertising sectors that has been least affected," said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB. "In recent years the digital revolution has driven a transformation of how consumers experience advertising and media. As the economy improves, we're confident that brands will devote an even greater share of their budgets to reaching consumers as they make interactive media a larger part of their lives."
Looksmart CEO Ted West agrees. I spoke with him following the release of the data to get his reaction to the findings.
"This is the first recessionary cycle the industry has experienced. We don't have the benefit of looking back of a tipping point and how things might bounce back," said West. "The stability of search points to the strength of adoption. When the recovery does occur, search will be a very strong beneficiary of that trend."
Because of that stability, online marketers can have confidence in maintaining their search marketing campaigns.
"I think that most search advertisers and their various agencies have developed a really sound base of experience and alternatives. I would continue to pursue those methods in selection and monitoring of keywords," advised West. "It's not a time to dramtically change. Search has proven to be productive."
West emphasized that consumers haven't left the internet, but when the conversions pick up again, search will benefit from that uptick.