Local TV online revenues up 41 percent last year

Local television's online advertising grew 41 percent in 2006, and the outlook for 2007 projects local online advertising to grow by as much as 55 percent across local markets, according to a new study by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB).

During 2006, the study found, local television stations sharpened their focus on the Internet, increasing their online ad revenues to $399 million. By the end of 2007, the report predicts, that figure could reach $618 million.

Stations in smaller markets did a better job of grabbing online shares than those in large markets, on average garnering almost four times more ad share.

The survey reveals that many stations are using the Web as a publishing platform, taking aim at their newspaper and yellow pages rivals by offering classified and directory advertising, and have gained nearly a point of share in the past year. Several stations captured more than 15 percent of all locally spent online advertising in 2006.

The report recommends that local broadcasters rethink the mass-media mentality with an eye toward viewing the Internet as a mass of niches; hire a dedicated sales force; give strong consideration to launching a real estate section; and consider spin-off sites that may not be branded to the station.

"Benchmarking the Local Web site Marketplace," was the second annual survey commissioned by TVB and was conducted by Borrell Associates.