Data Reveals Traditional Advertisers Fueling Online Ad Momentum

While the traditional and online marketing communities are still separated by a rift that may be imperceptible to the ordinary human eye, interactive agencies and online publishers will want to take note that traditional advertisers continue to drive online advertising growth, according to a Nielsen//NetRatings quarterly report.

On the heels of extraordinary First Quarter revenue growth figures from the IAB/PricewaterhouseCoopers Internet Advertising Revenue Report, Nielsen//NetRatings data shows that traditional advertisers continued to carry that growth in the First Quarter 2004.

According to AdRelevance, within their respective consumer categories, AT&T Wireless Services increased ad impressions online by more than one thousand percent from the First Quarter 2003 to 2004, pharmaceutical company Schering Plough increased impressions by 737 percent, and MBNA Corporation rose 471 percent over the last year. DaimlerChrysler and Safeway, Inc. grew 461 and 440 percent, respectively, within their segment groups.

"It's no longer 'should we or shouldn't we' [spend money on online advertising] now--it's really a matter of how much," Charles Buchwalter, vice president of client analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings said, commenting on major consumer products categories allocating dollars to online media. Buchwalter stressed that the data does not represent the fastest-growing companies on the Web. He noted that 2003 was the year when a number of traditional marketers stepped up to the online plate.

"During the soft economy over the last few years, traditional advertisers with bigger budgets have been the ones to experiment with the Internet as part of their overall ad campaign strategy," Buchwalter added, noting that major brand advertisers have been acclimatizing themselves to the medium over the last few years. "In the past two years, blue chips who took a chance at online advertising learned what worked for them, backing out of some areas and investing in others," he said.

Buchwalter, in San Francisco at the Ad:Tech show, also shared new research on online usage today. That research, extending from First Quarter 2003 through the first quarter of this year, indicates that people spent an average of 48 minutes on the Web in First Quarter 2003. For the first quarter of this year, that figure increased to 53 minutes, for an 11 percent increase in time spent. Overall, Web pages viewed jumped 26 percent, while the number of sessions per person increased 6 percent since last Q1 2003.

While increased broadband usage has driven the trend, Buchwalter says the story is more of a demographic one. His research found that the three demographic groups most responsible for the escalating usage are males ages 35 to 49, persons in households with incomes of $150,000-plus and Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Top Web Advertisers Within Key Industry Segments


Advertiser Category '03-'04 Growth

AT&T Wireless Telecommunications +1,262%
Schering Plough Pharmaceutical +737%
MBNA Corp. Financial Services +471%
DaimlerChrysler Automotive +461%
Safeway Retail/Grocery +440%
Ameriquest Financial Services +226%
Apollo Group Public Service/Education +163%
News Corp. Entertainment/Movies +133%
Cendant Travel/Vehicle Rental +62%
SBC Telecommunications +39%

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance