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Did Ad Spending Online Top the TV in UK?


The vast majority of British advertising growth in 2007 was on the Internet. Ofcom said in August 2008 that the online ad spend had risen an average of 70.2 percent in each of the past five years, and reached $5.6 billion last year.

Last year was the first time the Internet attracted more ad spending than the combined net advertising revenues of top TV channels ITV1, Channel 4, S4C and Five at $4.8 billion. Total TV ad revenues in the UK reached $7 billion last year.

The Ofcom numbers were somewhat higher than eMarketer's estimates, which put online ad spending in the UK at $5.3 billion for the year. Ofcom's estimates have prompted headlines that online ad spending overtook ad spending on TV in the UK during 2007.

"Though this milestone is imminent, it is difficult to believe that it has already occurred," said Karin von Abrams, senior analyst at eMarketer. "No other source claims to have confirmed this event -- and in fact the Ofcom statements do not really say it either."

Ms. von Abrams noted that the four TV channels mentioned by Ofcom are terrestrial, free-to-air channels, not digital, and that they did not account for all TV ad spending in the UK. Digital-only channels accounted for almost one-third of TV ad spending, and the proportion is rising.

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