The net gain in dot-com fall

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Ad spending by dot-coms in traditional media is crashing back to reality, as last week's Page 1 report in Ad Age made clear. It's no surprise given the dot-com debacle. More intriguing: Online ad spending is holding up nicely. Most interesting: In the dot-com universe, the biggest believers in online advertising turn out to be the Web divisions of traditional marketers, not the "pure-play" dot-coms. Connect the dots and this is good news for the future of online media.

At the peak, dot-coms last November accounted for 7.4% of U.S. off-line ad spending, according to Competitive Media Reporting. ("Call it a state of (very) temporary insanity," Ad Age said in a story that month.) Dot-com offline spending went on to surpass $3 billion in the first half of 2000. But dot-com offline spending plummeted after the spring tech stock crash; June's dot-com spending was the lowest since last September.

The dot-com ad debacle is over now. Dot-com advertisers will have to act like real, grownup companies in assessing how much to spend on offline media. That means it's probably not the most lucrative time to be in charge of dot-com customer accounts at TV network sales departments.

But it's a somewhat different story online. Spending by Internet companies on Net ads has been growing consistently, a review of CMR data shows. Among the dot-coms, the big believers in online advertising turn out to be the Web divisions of traditional companies. These brick-and-click ventures put 20% of their June spending into online ads, more than twice the online allocation of pureplay dot-coms, according to Ad Age's analysis of spending for the 100 largest Net-related companies.

This suggests bricks-and-clicks are bigger believers in online advertising than are companies born and bred on the Web. That's great news if you're selling online media. We've long figured traditional companies, not independent dot-coms, will pay the bills on the Internet. For online media, that's a Net gain.

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