RealTime IT News

Retailers Lead Online Ad Impressions

Retailers of goods and services were the strongest online advertisers during the month of May, continuing their historical strength as a top category, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

"Books and CDs are still the most dominant products promoted on the Web, as evidenced by this month's top advertiser, Bertelsmann, who led with large campaigns for DoubleDirect and CDNow," said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of client analytics at NetRatings.

Twelve out of the 13 industries measured posted year-over-year increases in online ad impressions, with seven categories boasting triple digit growth, the results said.

The Internet measurement and research firm also said overall online advertising impressions jumped 77 percent year-over-year to 94.2 billion impressions in May, as compared to 53.2 billion ad impressions a year ago. The usual suspects were driving the increase: online retailers looking to boost traffic and sales.

But while online retailers such as Amazon.com and CDNow.com helped drive the more than 33.8 billion ad impressions for the retail category in May (a 77 percent rise), ad spending overall is still expected to show no improvement this year.

That's because while ad impressions are heading up, so have the number of people going online, Buchwalter added. Add to that the phenomenon of falling rates on ads in the difficult economic climate and it amounts to flat spending, he said.

"But overall, the numbers show that the online ad market is firming up."

The second biggest ad category was financial services, with 14.4 billion online ad impressions issued for the month, while Web Media related ads were third with 12.1 billion impressions. Behind that was the travel category with 5.4 billion impressions, followed by the entertainment category which recorded 4.3 billion impressions.

Buchwalter said the travel category, although ranked fifth in overall impressions, actually showed the most resilience in bouncing back after travel planning tumbled in the aftermath of September 11th. Its 5.4 billion impressions for May represented a 304 percent increase over last May.

Although Bertelsmann perched atop the retail goods and services category, Netstock Corporation was the biggest advertiser in the financial services category, NetRatings said.

USA Networks, Inc., majority owner of online personals site Match.com and hot travel property Expedia.com, purchased the most online advertising impressions in both the Web media and travel categories. And Cassava Enterprises rounded out the sixth category of entertainment-related online ads.

But what the market, and researchers such as the Milaptas, Calif.-based Netratings are looking for, Buchwalter added, are signs that big traditional advertisers might be looking favorably at online advertising.

"That's the big issue: When are large, traditional, consumer products advertisers going to jump into the deep end," he said.

With Bertelsmann's new position as the top retail advertiser online, and its ownership of more traditional companies such as publisher Random House, the company could help lead other traditional companies to the medium, according to NetRatings.

"It's not enough to have the industry think they're home free," Buchwalter added of Bertelsmann, "but we think it's a trend in the right direction."