DoubleClick Study: Consumers Are in Control

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Premium publishers are entering a seller's market, advertisers are demanding more accountability and consumers crave more control. Those were the conclusions of DoubleClick's 10-year retrospective of the online advertising industry in the United States.

The study, "Decade in Online Advertising," relies on Nielsen//NetRatings data to trace the rise, fall and revival of online ad spending since the first Web banners debuted in October 1994. Data from other sources also were used to mark current and future trends.

One change in the market is the shift of power to the seller. The demand for online ad inventory is beginning to outstrip supply on leading Web sites.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, spending on U.S. online advertising grew 32 percent to $9.6 billion last year from $7.3 billion in 2003. But the population of active U.S. online users and the page views they created both rose only 5 percent from fourth-quarter 2004 versus 2003.

"The result is something that many online publishers have not yet experienced: a great deal of inventory sold out at premium prices a month or two in advance," said DoubleClick, a New York-based online ad services firm.

Another conclusion is that the Internet is meeting business demands for more advertising accountability.

Online advertisers clearly are aware that online measurement now goes beyond click and conversion tracking. They rely on search engine click-stream data, indirect response and view-throughs, rich media interactions and offline sales impact.

Rich media is a case in point. The format covers streaming video with deeper reporting ability due to branding metrics like ad interaction time and video plays and pauses.

Performance-based advertising, which includes search and affiliate marketing, has become widely popular. The IAB estimates search marketing accounts for 40 percent of online ad spending.

Most alarming for marketers is the shift in control to the consumer, DoubleClick found. Consumers are taking steps to avoid advertising overload. They are paying for unadulterated media and using technology like TiVo and personal video recorders to strip out ads. Digital technology has given them tools to do that.

It is accepted that being politer is not just a good business practice. It is increasingly a legal requirement. Advertisers are getting the message, with Internet marketers leading the way. The reduction of ad clutter through standardized ad sizes and a focus on spyware acknowledges the changes.

The ultimate expression of consumers' desire to have more control over their content is reflected in the citizens' media movement of Web logs, social networks, audio podcasting and the like.

"The antidote marketers can provide to advertising overload? 'Invertising': relevant marketing messages suited to how consumers wish to interact with media in a world where increasingly they hold the balance of power," DoubleClick said.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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