The countries of Western Europe are online powerhouses. But there are exceptions.
eMarketer estimates there are 22.4 million people online in Spain in 2009, and 26.4 million in Italy. Both countries rank among the top 15 worldwide in number of Internet users.
However, Spain and Italy do not approach the Internet penetration levels of other major European countries, such as the UK, France and Germany.
“Since relatively large numbers of consumers in Italy and Spain remain offline, only a small proportion of total advertising spending in the countries goes to the online channel,” says Karin von Abrams, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Italy and Spain Online: Young, Affluent Users Dominate. “Many companies have not expanded their marketing strategies to include the digital channel.”
Many Italian and Spanish advertisers still reach their audiences through traditional media, mainly through TV and print.
Throughout Europe, marketers generally have a high level of confidence in the Internet and other digital channels. Almost one-half (47%) of marketers polled by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) said that online advertising was “essential,” while 41% said it was “a growing medium.”
But Europe’s online advertising markets are not all equally advanced. Internet use—and online advertising—have not taken off in Spain and Italy as rapidly as elsewhere in the region.
Online advertising in Italy is rising steadily, despite the gloomy financial climate. The “This Year, Next Year Worldwide Winter 2008” study by GroupM estimated that online ad spending would reach €730 million ($1.07 billion) in 2009, up 14.9% on its 2008 value of €630 million ($930 million).
But the Internet will still account for just a tiny fraction (7.5%) of total ad spending in Italy, according to GroupM.
The Spanish advertising industry has been hard hit by the economic crisis. JPMorgan estimated that total advertising spending in Spain would shrink by 9.2% in 2009, and return to very modest growth of 3.4% in 2010.
Fortunately for Spain’s digital marketers, the Internet is expected to buck this trend and post solid gains of 10% in 2009 and 18% in 2010.
“The brightest spot of Internet usage in Italy and Spain is among the relatively young, well-to-do population,” says Ms. von Abrams. “As a result, advertisers such as youth brands, banks, film studios, high-end beverages and vehicle manufacturers are finding an eager, devoted audience on the Internet.”
To see what lies ahead online in Italy and Spain, purchase the new eMarketer report, Italy and Spain Online: Young, Affluent Users Dominate.