helping brands make perfect sense of social media, from IAB UK’s social media council

By Amy Kean, senior PR and marketing manager, IAB.


milkYesterday we (the IAB) released the latest results from our biannual online adspend report with PwC, and it’s fantastic news.

Numerous analysts predicted that the medium was set to experience a decline in revenues in 2009, with others believing it would remain static at best. In reality online adspend actually grew 4.2% throughout last year, topping just over £3.54 billion.

But what does this mean, I hear you cry? Well let’s refrain from comparing online with other media for a second, and instead look at it in the context of the wider UK economy. We’ve done our research, and it turns out that the online advertising market, at £3.5 billion, is the same size as the UK dairy industry.


Even more interesting? It’s the same size as the UK commercial sandwich industry. So there you have it fact fans, online is also as essential to the economy as BLTs. (But not the side orders like salad, Kettle Chips, Branston Pickle etc.)

Whilst in other media outlets we talk about the breakdown of the different formats (search, classifieds and display) and what sectors are spending the most in online, my favourite stat from this report is a secret one that I’ve saved for this blog, and one that we chose not to include in the press release.

Much has been made about the growth of social networks and the significant part they play in the digital economy, but until now the IAB has never really had much data to back this up within the PwC study. However in 2009 we have been able to estimate that social networks and community sites in the UK now represent around 9.3% of all online display – an impressive figure, given that a few years ago, it probably would have been pretty non-existent! So there’s the proof, social media contributes significantly to online ad revenues, it’s growing, and no doubt we can look forward to it getting bigger and better next year.

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