Study: UK Ad Market Grew in 2001

Not all was miserable in the online ad market during 2001, according to Web researcher Forrester and advertising tracker Evaliant, which said it had detected growth in the U.K. — despite near-total consensus that last year had seen retraction across the entire industry.

Findings from Forrester — using statistics provided by Evaliant’s AdWatch service — indicated that the advertising business in Great Britain actually grew, whereas most industry-watchers believe the U.S. market receded in 2001. (Indeed, the New York-based Interactive Advertising Bureau said revenue in the United States dropped 8.4 percent during the first three quarters of 2001.)

Yet Forrester analyst Rebecca Ulph said Evaliant’s statistics indicated a 28 percent increase in the U.K. ad market since 2000, growing to £122 million during 2001. That’s an astounding statistic, especially in light of a 3.4 percent decrease in the overall British ad market for the same period.

Ulph also said that the industry had been on track for about 52 percent year-over-year growth, until seasonal and economic conditions combined in August to derail the trend. Growth began slowing that month, even to the point of negative growth in November, which potentially had been an aftereffect of the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.

Ulph said the sector’s net gain was due to better measurement, lowered prices and reports of success among other online advertisers.

According to Forrester, financial services firms proved to be the chief fuel for the sector’s growth in the U.K., having increased their spending 59 percent from the previous year. For 2001, financial players comprised a total of 25 percent of the online ad industry’s revenue, with The Prudential leading after having spent about £1 million in media to advertise its online bank, Egg PLC.

Other industries, led by consumer goods and media/entertainment, posted lower growth figures. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers increased their online ad spending 11 percent, while media conglomerates and entertainment concerns boosted spending by 17 percent.

For 2002, Ulph said she expected CPG companies and automotive players to take the reins from financial services advertisers, posting the greatest increases in regional Web ad spending.

The news is obviously good for the U.K.’s ad players, even though Europe as a whole appears to have been suffering. 24/7 Media (now 24/7 Real Media) for instance, pulled the plug on its Continental media operations in September, while DoubleClick offloaded its own European network to a German rival two months later.

Forrester and Evaliant (formerly known as Leading Web Advertisers) have had a data-sharing agreement since October, when the U.S.-based researcher sold Evaliant its AdWatch tool, which tracks more than 650 European Web sites and 15,000 advertisers.

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