Survey: Confidence in Web, iTV Ads Tops Broadcast, Magazines

Despite the bad press that it’s received during the past year, online media might be held in higher regard among media buyers than previously thought — even higher than broadcast television, according to a new survey conducted by Myers Reports.

The New York-based marketing consultancy compiles a quarterly report of advertising confidence through surveys more than 150 of media buying executives. And this quarter, the firm’s chief economist Jack Myers says his findings demonstrate high levels of support for online and interactive television relative to most other measured media.

To quantify media buyers’ confidence in particular media, Myers uses what he calls an Ad Confidence Index, a weighted average derived from the percentage of executives who said they plan to either increase, decrease or maintain their overall media spending plans during the next year to 18 months.

The overall ACI for all media showed a slight increase from the previous quarter, which Myers interpreted as a sign that media buyers have stabilized their budgets, following a staggering 24 percent drop in the ACI between December 2000 and March 2001.

The new data, which breaks out the ACI by individual media, shows similar stabilization among online, direct marketing and interactive television. The data released today also shows these media to be significantly outperforming the media industry overall.

While the ACI for all media continues to hover around 49.40, interactive TV buys ranked a 52.13 on the Index. Online sponsorships, meanwhile, rated 60.82, while banner ads were 49.09 — 2.4 percent better than in previous quarters.

Conversely, network broadcast TV rated only 39.25, while consumer magazines rated an ACI of 46.35. Indeed, most traditional media — save direct and database marketing — fell well below the average confidence level.

“Despite all the negative stories you see regarding Internet advertising … their confidence numbers are uniformly higher than those of network broadcast television, consumer and trade magazines, national spot broadcast, national spot cable and network radio,” said Myers, the firm’s chief executive. “Like other media, interactive, direct and database marketing show some stabilization in confidence levels versus the shifts we saw earlier in the year … however, these media are distinguished by the fact that their ACI numbers are consistently higher than those of most other media.”

So, what does this mean? For one thing, the ACI has been a fair approximation of future advertising spending. In March, the Index had dropped 24 percent from its previous level, taken in January, preceding what has thus far played out as a trying upfront buying period for the major broadcast networks.

At about the same time, too, market analyst Henry Blodget cut his rankings for online ad industry revenue from flat to a 25 percent decline.

Now, Myers said he’s seeing overall numbers that suggest a slightly increased likelihood of media buys in general. If everything holds, the latest ACI survey could be one of first indicators that the media recession may have bottomed out.

Better still: if the new rankings are indeed the start of an industry-wide stabilization, the news might also indicate that planners are holding online media in higher regard than before the media downturn — and that’s especially good news for the battered Web advertising players.

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