eMarketer reported last week that in the first half of 2009, the UK became the first major economy to see online advertising spending surpass TV ad spending. According to the report, the Internet accounted for 23.5% of UK advertising revenue vs. 21.9% for television. This is big news and not without controversy, as the UK TV lobby is protesting the aggregate number reported for Internet ad revenue, which includes paid search (the largest category by nearly 3X), online classifieds, display media, and other formats.
While the experts argue over the math, I think that UK (and US) advertisers and consumers should celebrate this milestone. While the US Internet-TV ad spending gap is still sizable, the steady migration of dollars over the coming years will drive Internet industry growth and evolution, yes, but also a more customer-centric experience for consumers faced with hard decisions in an increasingly complex economic and marketing environment. Advertiser spending on social marketing/commerce applications is still significantly smaller than the leading categories of Internet ad spending mentioned above. However, as we have witnessed firsthand over the last 4+ years of building Bazaarvoice (and shared on many occasions on Bazaarblog), the social category offers perhaps the greatest opportunity for advertisers to think bigger than clickthroughs and conversion rates and instead focus on wholesale cultural and operational transformation of their businesses using the voice of the customer as a muse.
This news from the UK is timely, as we just wrapped up our second annual Social Commerce Summit in London, the European complement to our US Social Commerce Summit held in Austin every year. We now serve over 120+ customers across Europe, and the London Summit was a sold out event. In the coming days, we will share highlights from the Summit here on Bazaarblog!