Media: Perspective - Dotcom frenzy will encourage clients to look elsewhere

Forget the Titans and the Rams, the real eye-popper at this year’s Super Bowl was the advertising. Or rather, the price of the advertising.

Forget the Titans and the Rams, the real eye-popper at this year’s

Super Bowl was the advertising. Or rather, the price of the


Super Bowl is always lip-quiveringly expensive for advertisers, but the

price of a 30-second TV ad has now topped dollars 2.2 million, a

whopping 37.5 per cent hike on last year.

Blame the dotcoms frenzy. Half of the Super Bowl’s ads were for internet

companies and demand from these new advertisers helped drive the sort of

inflation that would have veins pulsating on temples at the Incorporated

Society of British Advertisers.

But while Super Bowl may be a unique phenomenon, dotcoms-fuelled

inflation is set to become an issue for advertisers on this side of the

Atlantic too. Dotcoms often come armed with juicy ad budgets and without

the expectations of the sizeable discounts established advertisers are

used to. Not surprisingly, media owners are dribbling over the prospect

of hardening rates.

Recent reports suggest that some national newspapers are demanding - and

getting - 40 per cent premiums for dotcoms ads and I’m sure the papers

are not the only ones. John Billett’s report on FMCG advertising even

suggests that TV programmes are now being made to lure audiences who are

attractive to new-media and high tech advertisers at the expense of

shows for FMCG-purchasing housewives.

Of course, the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Mars are still

crucial to media owners (these three between them account for more than

pounds 350 million of UK adspend while dotcoms companies still account

for single percentage shares for many media owners). But because they’re

big spenders, they also drive hard bargains, demand high discounts and

cause heaps of trouble over issues such as inflation, sales practices or

media ownership consolidation. Is it any wonder that some media owners

now privately thumb their nose at those biggest advertisers, thanks to

the dotcoms bonanza?

But media owners cut their product to suit the dotcoms wallet at their

peril. Already the dotcom clutter is driving the savvy new-media brands

away from mainstream advertising, and that’s even before the

cost-inefficiencies of hefty ad premiums in a crowded market are truly


In the meantime, traditional advertisers are also beginning to look


More are experimenting with online marketing and Fletcher Research now

predicts that online adspend will account for 16 per cent of marketing

budgets by 2002. It will be a long time before a major brand can be

built by marketing on the internet alone. But media owners’ dotcoms

feeding frenzy is ensuring that more advertisers (old and new) are

looking closely at the commercial potential of the internet. After all,

25 million of us will be online in the UK within the next three years,

and that’s more than a quarter of this year’s Super Bowl audience.

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