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Online spend to hit record £300m after year-end boom

LONDON - Online advertising expenditure is expected to hit the £300m mark by the end of the year, following a record first half and a boom in the fourth quarter.

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For the first six months of 2003, £151.6m was spent on online advertising, up 85.3% on the same period in 2002.

This gives the medium a market share of 2%, making it twice the size of cinema advertising and about half the size of radio, according to figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau UK and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

An online retailing boom in the fourth quarter of the year, as more people do their Christmas shopping online, is set to push the year's total past £300m for the first time, an increase of more than £100m on the 2002 figure.

The second quarter of 2003 saw the biggest rise, with spending up 15.6% on the first quarter to £81.3m.

The research measures the industry based on recorded revenues reported by the finance departments of online media owners excluding production costs.

The IAB believes the upturn in the fortunes of online advertising is down to a realisation by mainstream marketers that the internet can play a "powerful brand-building" role as well as being a direct selling medium.

Danny Meadows-Klue, chief executive of the IAB, said: "Audiences have switched to online and marketers are following. The internet has become a mainstream media channel and these record-breaking levels are a watershed that can not be matched by any other media."

He added: "The tide has turned, fuelled by rapid product innovation and unstoppable audience growth as British consumers have turned to the internet for everything from entertainment and job hunting to shopping and news."

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