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Wall St. Turmoil Not Likely To Touch Online Ad Spend; WPP’s Sorrell: Too Soon To Tell

Today’s news about the fall of Lehman Brothers, Bank of America’s planned rescue of Merrill Lynch and insurer AIG’s debt problems isn’t going to have any immediate affect on online ad spending, though residual impact could eventually cause advertisers to pullback somewhat. But for the moment, online ad expenditures are expected to remain stable, since the industry has already been bracing itself for a wider economic retrenchment that started in earnest last year when the mortgage lending crisis first hit ground. For the moment, most agencies are pretty reticent about reacting, opting for the wait and see approach. Responding to a question for what the impact of all this news is likely to have on spending, WPP Group CEO Sir Martin Sorrell said via email: “Far too early to assess, but expect continuation of current trends.”

Institutional banking not a factor online: When it comes to online advertising, which is largely about customer acquisition, Lehman and Merrill were essentially non-participants. AIG is a different story, since the troubled insurer is regarded as a fairly large online spender, and so remains an open question. Jim Spanfeller, president and CEO of “It is one of the less known conundrums of the web that while the finance category is strong from a numerical standpoint the online spending is dominated by lower funnel advertisers like Scottrade, E-Trade and Ameritrade. The real brand-oriented financial houses have been very slow to migrate spending towards the web. Which is a bit perplexing given that their client base is now spending the lion