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Barclays Revises Online Ad Spend Downward; Only 2.3 Percent Gains Expected For '09

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Barclays Capital's latest downward revision for 2009 online ad spending calls for a meager 2.3 percent increase over last year to $23.7 billion. Just four months ago, analysts at the investment bank were calling for a reasonable 6 percent bump from '08, though that was a significant downgrade from Barclays' October forecast of 16 percent growth. Still to put it in context, total ad spend is expected to decline 13 percent (Barclays projected a 10 percent drop in December). Meanwhile, the outlook for newspapers hasn't gotten any worse than what Barclays predicted in December; analysts are maintaining that revenues in the category will fall 21 percent this year and will drop 10 percent in 2010.

Online segments: Even search doesn't appear as robust as it did previously. Back in December, Barclays thought the segment would rise 20 percent in '09, but now, it looks like search will only grow 8 percent. Four months ago, display was merely anemic with a 4 percent growth projection; at the moment, however, display is expected to slip into negative territory, down 1.2 percent this year. Barclays also sees a 7.5 percent decline in "auctions and other," while lead gen and e-mail marketing will hardly increase at all , growing 1 percent.

Better luck next year: For 2010, Barclays believes that online ad growth will revive somewhat. But the projected 5.7 percent increase in internet ad revs, reaching $25.1 billion, is fairly lackluster considering the tremendous double digit growth the past few years. For the moment, Barclays forecasts display making it back to the positive side with a small 2.7 percent gain, while search could be up 10 percent. Expectations will get dimmer for the "auctions and other" segment with a 1 percent decline as lead gen and e-mail are set to rise 3.4 percent. Still, things should only get better for online advertising from here on out, as the space takes a greater share of the total ad pie. Internet ad's market share will cross over and pass that of the newspapers in 2010 at 10.5 percent as the print vehicles start to shrink to 10.3 percent.

By David Kaplan