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Online advertising revenues hit historic Q1 high in 2014

Online adver­tis­ing agen­cies enjoyed a bumper start to 2014 with rev­enues hit­ting a record first quar­ter high of $11.6 billion.

The rock­et­ing rise of dig­i­tal 

The ster­ling efforts of all those hard­work­ing copy­writ­ers, art direc­tors and account man­agers appear to have paid off hand­some­ly this year, accord­ing to new fig­ures pre­pared for the Inter­ac­tive Adver­tis­ing Bureau (IAB) by Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers US. The $11.9 mil­lion total rep­re­sents a hike of 19 per­cent on the same time last year (which, at $9.6 bil­lion, was itself a record-break­ing zenith).

IAB Pres­i­dent and CEO Ran­dall Rothen­berg said:

“Inter­ac­tive adver­tis­ing is see­ing remark­able gains. Dig­i­tal screens are a crit­i­cal part of the mar­ket­ing mix and these land­mark fig­ures speak to that irrefutable fact.”

The IAB’s Senior VP of Research, Ana­lyt­ics and Mea­sure­ment, Sher­rill Mane, con­curred, stating:

“These Q1 rev­enue lev­els speak to digital’s unique abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy the most rel­e­vant audi­ence seg­ments and deliv­er pow­er­ful results.”

Those copy­writ­ers, art direc­tors and account man­agers we just men­tioned who have kept abreast of these devel­op­ments can right­ly con­grat­u­late them­selves. PwC US part­ner, David Sil­ver­man, described the scale of the shift to digital:

“With con­sumers increas­ing­ly rely­ing on dig­i­tal screens for every­thing from infor­ma­tion to enter­tain­ment, num­bers like these should come as no sur­prise. Inter­ac­tive clear­ly offers a unique propo­si­tion for mar­keters and agen­cies – an oppor­tu­ni­ty they are embrac­ing and will like­ly rely on more in the future.”

Brands take note: this is no blip

The first quar­ter fig­ures, clear­ly, are no mere ‘freak peak’: anoth­er IAB/PwC US report pub­lished this April showed that inter­net adver­tis­ing rev­enues totaled $42.8 bil­lion last year, rep­re­sent­ing a hike of 17 per­cent on 2012’s total. In so doing, it super­seded the $40.1 bil­lion gen­er­at­ed by broad­cast TV advertising.

The astute account man­ag­er will, how­ev­er, appre­ci­ate that total TV adver­tis­ing still remains way out in front: when spot, cable, net­work and syn­di­ca­tion TV adver­tis­ing dol­lars are all added togeth­er, the over­all total comes out as $66 bil­lion. But the growth in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing remains spec­tac­u­lar: between 2012 and 2013, for exam­ple, total mobile adver­tis­ing rev­enues leapfrogged by 110 per­cent to hit $7.1 billion.

As Sher­rill mane put it, brands can no longer afford to sit on the side­lines: if they want to grow, they have to put their mon­ey into dig­i­tal media, or that mon­ey will increas­ing­ly be wasted.

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