Business publications, the Web and television are increasingly snaring the marketing largess from computer advertisers whose quarterly sales rarely dip below double-digit growth.
"I struggle to find a category where you are going to see a statistically significant downturn in computer advertising," says Sean Cunningham, exec VP and co-media director at Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, agency for the world's No. 1 PC marketer, Compaq Computer Corp.
Growth in computer, software, printer and computer services advertising in consumer media jumped 25% to a record $1.7 billion in 1996, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Magazines dominated, but TV's portion grew to $386.3 million, up 26%.
Such consumer media ad volume, however, pales when compared to the computer magazine and business media ad market-most of which is not tracked by CMR. Spending in this print segment grew 13.6% to a record $2.5 billion in '96, reports Adscope, a high-tech advertising tracking service.
Such ad growth will only expand with the market; already unit sales of PC desktop and portables in first-half '97 have grown 17.7%, and that's after clocking 13% for '96, according to Computer Intelligence, a division of Ziff-Davis. CI's PC industry analyst, Matt Sargent, projects continued growth at such magnitude for at least another year.
Current stimulants on the business side are the Pentium II and upgrading of Windows NT; the Pentium MMX chip for graphics and sub-$1,000 desktop PCs are consumer beacons, he notes. The low-priced PCs, particularly those from Packard Bell NEC and Compaq, have captured 25% of unit sales this year vs. 7% all of last year.
Tech companies far outspent general consumer marketers last year on the Internet. Microsoft Corp. ranked No. 1 in Web advertising in '96 with spending of $13 million, estimates Jupiter Communications. IBM Corp. and Netscape Communications Corp. ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, with spending just below $6 million.
Tech Web spending is picking up. Microsoft spent $24 million on Web ads in the fiscal year ended June 30, says Exec VP-Chief Operating Officer Bob Herbold, who projects a 50% to 70% boost in Microsoft's Web outlays the current fiscal year.
A shift in media will become more apparent through the urging of Intel Corp., which is rejiggering its estimated $750 million "Intel Inside" co-op program. The program is based on a 6% rebate on computer chip purchases.
Starting this month, Intel is letting PC marketers use any amount of the co-op money for Web ads through year-end. Only print and broadcast heretofore have shared its co-op dollars.
"You are about to see an explosion of [online] advertising," says Michael Paterson, worldwide management supervisor for IBM Personal Computer Co. at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York.
Intel is just supporting a movement already under way. Toshiba America Information Systems' Computer Systems Division already had prepared for a media split of 90% print/10% Web in coming months, says J. Rene Ward, senior director of sales and marketing communications. Ms. Ward has dropped TV, calling it inefficient.
Despite Toshiba's view of TV, tech advertisers, including Gateway 2000, Dell Computer Corp., AST Research, Compaq, Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics and Apple Computer, are preparing a flurry of new TV campaigns for this fall.
Much of the new TV activity is brand advertising aimed more at business than consumers. Even with the fall campaigns of computer hardware marketers, much of the new computer TV money is coming from outside the PC category.
Despite ad defections into other media, computer magazines aren't going begging. Adscope-monitored business publications (dominated overwhelmingly by computer magazines) grew 6.6% in pages and 14.8% in revenues in first half '97.