European IABs See Opportunity in 2009 Despite Hurdles

clickz_ukandeu.gifThe IAB Europe is optimistic that online advertising will stand strong during 2009, despite the economic difficulties currently facing the industry.

At the organization’s first Research Showcase event in London yesterday, the IAB Europe President and CEO Alain Heureux presented the results of a pan-European survey. Conducted among each of the IAB Europe’s 19 national chapters, the study provides a top-down view of the state of the online ad industry in Europe.

Despite hesitant advertisers and declining CPMs, IABs throughout Europe typically perceived the economic downturn as an opportunity for the industry to prove itself, potentially emerging from an ad spend slump stronger than it entered, according to the survey results. Heureux said member IABs fully expect 2009 to be tough; however, they are “totally committed to online advertising, and believe it will more than hold its own next year.”

Survey respondents pinpointed themes they felt would characterize the industry throughout 200. A key point that arose from the research is the neeed for continued and proven effectiveness, measurability, and transparency to help drive the medium forward.

Heureux acknowledged standardized measurement of ROI “continues to evade online advertising,” but stressed this is an area the IAB Europe will focus on during the coming year, particularly through the Measurement of Interactive Audience (MIA) initiative the trade group is currently working on in conjunction with the European Interactive Advertising Association.

“We believe that online advertising will continue to grow, but that growth is dependent upon the progression of metrics — particularly in relation to brand advertising,” said Mike Shaw, comScore’s director, marketing solutions. Shaw stressed the increased importance of proving display ad ROI, especially in order to combat the migration of ad spend to search, a medium proving increasingly attractive among advertisers seeking to squeeze maximum return from their investments.

Another issue respondents highlighted as “challenging” for 2009 is that of consumer privacy. Speaking with ClickZ News, Heureux said he was keen to work with regulators to address the matter at a European level, particularly in relation to areas such as behavioral targeting. Incidentally, the IAB U.K. is also working towards industry guidelines surrounding the practice.

Acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead, European IABs remain hopeful that 2009 will present a number of positive opportunities for the industry. Survey respondents said digital will begin to play a more central role within integrated campaigns, complemented by media such as TV and radio. The relationship between search and display advertising also will become more important, they predicted.

During 2009, IAB Europe will seek to provide guidance and support for its members with a focus on the areas of public affairs, standardization, benchmarking and best practices. Heureux also hopes to extend the network to 23 national IABs, incorporating Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland and Luxemburg, by 2010.

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