Overlooking the fact that the first IAB Engage was actually in 2005 (which, by my reckoning, was nine years ago), the event itself provides a useful reference point for the journey that internet advertising has been on.
At a dinner last month, Richard Eyre, the esteemed IAB chairman, recalled how, only ten years ago, most clients viewed the internet with suspicion. Having just lived through the first boom and bust at the turn of the century, it still felt like a dangerously volatile environment.
IAB Engage provides a useful reference point for the journey that internet advertising has been on
However, the most prescient leaders were already clear about the important role that digital media would play in the future, as reflected in the standard of keynote speakers for the IAB’s debut conference, which included Bill Gates, Martin Sorrell and David Puttnam.
Back in 2004, online adspend was tracked at £825 million – some 5 per cent of the ad market. Banner ads were the biggest game in town, while the concept of paid search words had only just entered the marketplace.
At Engage this week, the IAB’s chief executive,Guy Phillipson, cited forecasts by Enders Analysis that internet advertising is set to reach £9.3 billion by 2016, representing nearly half (46 per cent) of all money spent on advertising in the UK. Within that, 40 per cent (£3.7 billion) is expected to come from mobile.
The figures largely chime with the changes taking place in media consumption habits. Between 2006 and 2014, the amount of time consumers spent with TV, radio, magazines and press dropped, according to the IPA’s TouchPoints survey, while time spent with the internet increased by 86 minutes per day.
Of course, it should be noted how these internet figures include watching TV and reading newspaper sites, in addition to time spent on search and social media. Overall, the internet already accounts for 30 per cent of all time people in the UK spend with media, according to the IPA survey – the largest share of any channel and up from 21 per cent just four years earlier.
Of course, within this complex, multilayered digital landscape, media agencies have a critical role to play in advising brands where to invest their budgets. Havas Media’s Denise Turner makes a strong case in the second stage of the IPA’s Know The Value Of Media report, published this week. It’s well worth a read.