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The breadth of U.S. advertisers across virtually all industries means that growth of advertising spend is highly correlated with the GDP, a measure of the country's productivity. The story becomes different when disaggregating advertising spend by channel. While TV, direct mail and newspapers account for nearly three-fourths of all advertising spending combined, the Internet channel has grown the fastest since 2001, taking share away from most traditional channels. Internet advertising grew at an annual clip of 18% from 2001-2006 and only cable TV (10%) was close to a double digit growth rate. Other channels basically kept pace with GDP growth (about 3%), with newspapers (1%) and radio (2%) most negatively affected.
Advertising on the Internet has the dual benefit of being generally more efficient and effective compared to other media channels. A standard advertising cost metric is CPM or Cost per Thousand Impressions. For example, a $1 CPM equates to a cost of $1 to reach 1,000 theoretical viewers or readers (theoretical because not everyone will read or look at an advertisement). Internet CPM rates in 2006 averaged $6, much less than most traditional media (see table below). Compounding this lower cost is the effectiveness of Internet advertising, which can be measured using a variety of tracking methods. An advertiser can tell, for example, who clicked on an Internet ad and even who bought a product or service during an internet session. Companies such as Google and Yahoo! have leveraged the measure-ability of the Internet to charge advertisers for clicks rather than impressions, further attracting advertisers with its pay-for-performance model. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to measure how effectively television, newspaper, radio or magazine ads drive sales.
|TV (Network, Cable)||$18|
|Radio (Network, Spot)||$7|
Pay-per-click (PPC) Internet ad companies face threats from click fraud, which artificially inflate the prices paid by advertisers and benefit the advertising companies such as Yahoo! and Google, which generate revenue from clicks. Both of these companies have settled several lawsuits claiming that the company did not do enough to stem click fraud. It is currently under debate how much of their PPC business is fraudulent.
Video games and mobile phones are two channels that may threaten or accelerate Internet advertising companies. Console video games (i.e., PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii) are increasingly connected, and Internet-based games themselves (e.g., large online multiplayer games) have risen in popularity. In addition, mobile phones are one of the most popular devices in the world and have increased in capabilities through technology such as 3G, which enables a wide range of activity such as email, Internet browsing, and multimedia capabilities. Advertising on these channels is a small but rapidly growing trend. Internet advertising companies such as MSN and Yahoo! may benefit from these trends if they build capabilities to leverage these channels; otherwise, these emerging media may take share away from "traditional" Internet advertising as advertisers seek innovative ways to reach potential customers--for instance, mobile advertising has the benefit of being location-based and highly targetable.
Internet penetration and total page views in the U.S. have slowed in recent months, potentially signaling channel maturation. Internet advertising depends heavily on online traffic and if these trends continue, advertising spend on this may not grow at the same rate as recently (18% per year from 2001-2006).
The future of online business has a lot more in store than advertising as we know it. The cloud compute fabrics now being constructed can support a lot more finely tuned matching of buyers and sellers, for consumers and businesses alike. The consensus moves toward an algorithmic meta-data driven future in which the winners will likely be taking a piece of many online transactions. This real-time marketplace can scale up to global mass media, and down to the audience and location of one.
The companies are thinking beyond the old model of advertising. Online advertising is not only a segment, and companies are looking beyond the wider opportunity to use the automation on the Web as a way of just bringing buyers and sellers close together.
This requires a tremendous amount of cloud compute to the same levels matching search criteria to results and then matching that to advertising. That advertising is then bought through an auction bid process among those seeking the highest placement.