SAN FRANCISCO -- To address the nagging issue of how to make Internet advertising more effective and profitable, a group of advertisers and Web publishers formed an organization called FAST, or the Future of Advertising Stakeholders, last August.
But during a trade show on Internet advertising held here last week, FAST's chairman, Richard A. LeFurgy, joked that maybe the group should change its name.
"How about `not-so FAST,'" LeFurgy said. Meeting during the tech conference on Internet advertising and marketing, FAST members said that while they had made progress in the last nine months, much work remained to convince companies to spend their advertising dollars online. The mixed sentiment is reflected in two studies released to coincide with the conference. The good news for advocates of online advertising comes from the Internet Advertising Bureau, an online advertising association also led by LeFurgy. The bureau reported that Internet advertising revenues hit $1.92 billion in 1998, more than double the $907 million spent in 1997, surpassing the $1.58 billion spent on outdoor advertising in 1998. LeFurgy called that a significant benchmark. The study also found that the types of products and services advertised online were becoming more diverse. During the fourth quarter, noncomputer retail advertising represented 29 percent of Internet advertising, compared with 20 percent for computer-related advertising. LeFurgy said that demonstrated that Internet advertising was no longer merely the realm of the technology set. Yet a study by the Association of National Advertisers has found evidence that mainstream advertisers continue to feel uncertain about the medium. The association's study, which mostly focused on the advertising patterns of the 500 largest industrial companies, concluded that the percentage of companies it surveyed that advertised online had decreased to 61 percent during 1998 from 68 percent the year before. …