Dell was the only advertiser among the top five with a primary strategy of driving sales; the hardware manufacturer intended to boost sales through its display campaigns 73 percent of the time in the fourth quarter. SBC, LowerMyBills.com, Netflix, and InterActive spent the majority of their display dollars on convincing consumers to visit their respective Web sites. Driving traffic was the goal of 98 percent of LowerMyBills.com's fourth-quarter impressions, 73 percent of InterActive's impressions, 69 percent of SBC's impessions, and 54 percent of Netflix's impressions.
Overall, the fourth quarter saw 252 billion ad impressions served, according to AdRelevance. Sixty-two percent of the impressions served--or 158 billion--were intended to increase visits to the advertisers' Web sites. Boosting brand awareness, the second most popular goal, accounted for only 19 percent--or 48 billion--of fourth-quarter impressions. Direct sales was the third most popular goal, accounting for 17 percent--or 44 billion--fourth-quarter impressions.
Although mostly termed "display advertising," the vast majority of impressions served in the fourth quarter were direct response in nature, said JupiterResearch analyst Niki Scevak. Additionally, he said, the top five advertisers in the fourth quarter were primarily direct response advertisers. As ad serving costs have gone down, pay-for-performance ad networks have thrived, causing direct response advertisers to spend more, Scevak said.
Internet portal Yahoo!--which yesterday reported record-setting fourth-quarter revenues of $1.1 billion --hosted the most ads, totaling 63.1 billion, or one-quarter of all fourth-quarter impressions. Yahoo! was followed by rival Web portal MSN, which hosted 31.9 billion impressions. CNN.com, iWon, and ESPN.com, rounded out the top five, with 5.9, 5.4, and 4.7 billion impressions, respectively.
Despite Yahoo!'s dominant share of hosted impressions, three of the top five advertisers delivered most of their impressions on MSN. SBC ran 2.70 billion impressions to MSN, followed by Netflix, which delivered 1.65 billion, and InterActive Corp, which had 1.19 billion impressions on MSN. Both Dell and LowerMyBills.com delivered the majority of their impressions on Yahoo! (1.1 billion and 1.63 billion, respectively).
Top Online Advertisers/Publishers, Fourth Quarter 2004
Advertiser Ad Impressions
Dell Computer 5.83 billion
SBC Communications 5.63 billion
LowerMyBills.com 5.48 billion
Netflix 5.47 billion
InterActive Corporation 4.62 billion
AT&T Wireless* 4.40 billion
Verizon Communications 3.62 billion
Orbitz 3.25 billion
Scottrade 2.96 billion
Ford Motor Co. 2.87 billion
Publisher Ad Impressions
Yahoo! 63.10 billion
MSN 31.90 billion
CNN 5.90 billion
iWon 5.50 billion
ESPN.com 4.73 billion
Juno 4.72 billion
America Online 4.44 billion
New York Times Digital 4.16 billion
NetZero 4.08 billion
Excite 3.69 billion
Source: MediaDailyNews analysis of Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance data.