In a First, Web Advertising Outpaces TV in U.K.

Internet Now Commands 24% of Ad Spending to TV's 22%

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In what's believed to be a first for a major ad market, internet advertising has overtaken TV ad spending in the U.K.

Web advertising now accounts for almost 24% of ad spending in the U.K., compared to TV, which has a 22% share. These figures come from a biannual report from Internet Advertising Bureau in the U.K. and were first reported by Reuters.

But before you get too excited, consider that the U.K. TV market is a highly restricted one with a massive player that doesn't take ads (BBC) and one that's been particularly battered during the recession. On top of that, online spending in the U.K. has been anything but immune to the recession, with its torrid rates of growth seen as recently as early 2008 falling off dramatically.

The new order is helped by the abundance of cheap computing technology and high broadband penetration in the U.K. And it doesn't particularly come as a surprise when you consider that the TV market is so beat up that advertisers are increasingly hanging their hopes on a relaxation of rules barring product placement in programming.

Internet advertising's fortunes are also helped by recession-mired marketers looking for more efficient, more measureable ways to spend their dollars, which the Internet provides. Even still, web advertising, which grew a little more than 4% over the first half of 2009 -- the time period measured in the IAB report -- is way off the 21% growth over the same period in 2008.

Nevertheless, the study offers internet ad boosters the chance to sound off a bit. "This is a significant milestone," Guy Philipson, CEO of IAB U.K., told Reuters. "This is the first major market where online has overtaken television to become the biggest single medium." Mr. Philipson predicted that those double-digit growth rates would come back by 2011.

In terms of share by medium, the U.K. is ahead of the rest of the world. In a recent report, WPP's Group M said internet ads should account for 13% of spending on a global basis in 2009. In 2010, that figure should hit 15%. It attributed the hike to declines in traditional media and increases in search and mobile. Group M put digital share in the U.S. at 15.4% in 2009 and projected a 17% share in 2010.

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