Financial Firms Trim Online Spending

NEW YORK Even before the current Wall Street upheaval, financial service brands had pulled back on their online ad activity. And much like on Wall Street, their pullback is having an impact on the health of the overall ad economy.

The financial services category, typically one of the more robust in the online ad space, spent 27 percent less on display advertising through the first six months of this year compared to the same period in ’07, according to Nielsen’s latest report. That decrease led to a 6 percent overall dip in online display ad dollars, and a 9 percent decrease in ad impressions, per Nielsen.

Though online ad spending estimates can be inconsistent and frequently inflated (Nielsen said financial services brands spent $1.1 billion during the first two quarters of 2008 compared to $1.5 billion during the same period of 2007), the decline is still revealing, especially since other major categories continue to exhibit growth.

For example, according to Nielsen Online’s AdRelevance data, spending by automotive brands soared by 45 percent in the first half of the year, while consumer goods increased their spending 32 percent. Specific brands that exhibited strong spending increases included Anheuser-Busch, Unilever, Toyota and General Motors, said Nielsen.

Overall, online advertising continues to grow at a robust rate once dollars from search, text ads and video are factored in. According to Nielsen, total online ad spending increased by 11 percent during the first half of 2008.

Adweek is a unit of the Nielsen Co.