Online advertising now accounts for 11.4% of all ad spending in the UK compared with 10.9% for newspapers. Modern online advertising systems like DoubleClick enables advertisers to buy exactly what they want, when they want, directed at people more likely to be interested. This is one key benefit when selling ad space with more confidence to businesses used to buying print media ad space. You get exactly what you pay for.
There is never a guaranteed return on any ad spend in national or local newspapers, print advertising can be hit and miss, unless you are placed in targeted supplements or specific sections of a publication.
The web enables companies to target their customers like never before. The user practically asks for ads that are relevant to them, or at least the technology is there to enable sites to do it, the big search engines are prime examples.
Richard Wray and Katie Allen writing in Saturday 31 March's Guardian Business add:
In search engine media, the advertiser is the content itself," according to Warren Cowan, founder and chief executive of Greenlight, a search-marketing group. He said: "In search engine marketing users request the advertising they see. No other type of advertising has been able to tap into this type of 'user solicited' advertising".
Online newspapers should take up this opportunity, giving local visitors to their news content relevant local ad content, rather than random generic brands that may be of no interest locally or specifically to the viewer on any page.
Search advertising allows companies to vie for position on search engines, so when a user looks for cheap TV sets, a holiday, an iPod or a car, their brand comes out on top. Search marketing is the antithesis of traditional advertising. Traditional TV, radio and print advertising relies upon brands interrupting a connection between an individual viewer or reader and content meant to inform or entertain them.
As the Guardian article concludes, one area that has been contentious is measurement of web statistics. But the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic will later this month begin publishing online statistics to enable advertisers and web companies to be better informed about how successful sites are and audience reach.