In an attempt to possibly calm people’s nerves about the state of the online advertising industry, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers highlighted the year over gains in Internet advertising rather than the decline between Q4 ’09 and and Q1 ’10. Of course, that decline is the new ‘normal’ considering the heavy concentration on advertising during the holiday buying season. It hasn’t always been that way though.
The chart below tells the story of an industry that is certainly hitting a plateau of sorts as it charts Internet advertising revenues by quarter since 2001. Q4 to Q1 drops were not the norm until they started in Q1 2008.
What one makes of these numbers and the trending seen is really a matter of perspective as is all interpretation of business data. The year over year increase is encouraging unless you decide to say that since Q1 of 2009 was so bad that the increase is to be celebrated in a cautionary way. This year’s first quarter just got back to the levels of Q1 2008 (even surpassing by a bit) so while the increase is invited it is by no means an indication of growth. Recovery maybe. Scratching and clawing our way out of the abyss? Kind of. Growth? Not so much.
So while this can be officially touted as the largest first quarter ever it is just by a small margin and it is barely squeaking past a record set 2 years ago. Things may be getting better but moving forward it may be a prudent move to look at any growth in terms of what it is really saying.
Just as SEO has evolved to concentrate on conversions over ranking, the way we measure success in the Internet marketing industry needs to recognize that we too may have to look at things differently. We have suffered during this time and nothing, including the wonderful Internet, is impervious to taking a hit moving forward in the new world economic order.