A day after reporting that television ad revenues overall were down in 2008, the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) is noting a bright spot. Interactive sales for TV stations shot up 36% to break the $1 billion mark for the first time.
According to research conducted by Borrell Associates, which tracks interactive advertising for nearly 3,900 local websites in the US and Canada through voluntary submission of data, the websites of US television stations booked $1.04 billion in revenues in 2008. Some 718 TV stations were included in the research.
For 2009, Borrell says Interactive revenues for US TV stations are on track to hit $1.3 billion, which would be a 26% gain.
“Local TV stations are redoubling their interactive-sales efforts, aiming for high double-digit increases with an ever-increasing array of offerings. TVB will continue its multiplatform initiatives to help stations realize the full potential of this growth area,” said Jack Poor, VP/Marketing at TVB.
“We saw a remarkable thing in this year’s survey,” said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates. “As we looked at the database of URLs, we saw that many broadcasters have branched out beyond merely selling banners on their ‘CallLetter.com’ sites. They’ve begun using the Web to launch new products that compete directly with newspapers, yellow pages, and with each other. This was just theory or anecdotal until last year. Now it’s happening, and the launch of these new brands seems to be propelling those stations further ahead in revenues,” he noted.
Another phenomenon Borrell pointed out was that the most successful stations have widened their benchmarking scope and are no longer just comparing themselves with other TV websites in the market, but with all local websites. “We see a handful of stations capturing five, 10, even 13 times the market share of local online advertising as their TV peers. They are obviously doing things differently, beyond the broadcast up-sell to the Web,” Borrell said.
Other findings show that local TV-run websites continue to gain ground on newspaper sites. A local TV site beat out the largest newspaper site in 22 of the 80 markets surveyed, up from 16 last year. It also showed that the heaviest activity was in the Top 10 markets, where stations reported a 65% increase in Web revenues in 2008. The average per-station revenue in those large markets surpassed the million-dollar mark for the first time, hitting $1.4 million.
The full report, “Benchmarking: TV Web Sites Surpass $1 Billion,” is available for download by TVB members. There’s also a version for non-members, both accessible from the same web page.