Online Advertising to take a hit in 2009?

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan over at Montreal-based Mojo Supreme is blogging about the forecasted fall in online ad revenue in 2009. He points out that all this talk of an ailing economy will have a multiplier effect on ad rates as media buyers convince themselves that lowballing publishers is the best tactic and publishers scramble to book what they can. Karbasfrooshan’s entire blog post is worth a read but here’s the kicker – All Things Are Relative: At Least We’re Not in Radio, TV or Print!

If online advertising sentiment is this bad, even if the outcome is half as bad, then imagine what the radio, TV or print outlook is right now.  Can you really imagine a media buyer paying $1M – let alone $50M, as Dell balked at – to be in print?  What about radio or TV, which represent a black box in advertising where you don’t get to even track or target anything?

Newspapers like NYT and Tribune are – or are at risk to – defaulting right and left.  TV companies like CBS are seeing declines in revenues.  Radio companies are not faring better.

The point I am making is: there is a bull market somewhere at all times – even these times – and that market is online.  It’s time to balance the reporting, too.  I find it appalling (alright, strong word) that a site like Tech Crunch inflated the bubble on the way up, and is now ringing the bells of doom in the downturn… but that is publishing… and Tech Crunch does it well.

Who does the doomsday scenario thing best?  Henry Blodget.  Reading his Alley Insider, you’d think he and his talented staff of writers were typing on a ledge somewhere, choosing between the Publish button and jumping out of the window. For a great piece on his comeback, read this Wired piece.  Mind you, in all honesty, I am technically guilty of this as well, the title of this piece should be “Will Online Ads Fall by 50%”, and not “What Happens if Online Ad Revenue Falls by 50% in Q1?” – but when I started writing it, I was thinking more of the impact on print… but then I started to ask myself, can this even really happen?

Well, maybe.  At the end of the day, we just saw a major evaporation of wealth throughout 2008 in the housing, financial and automotive sector, to think that online advertising will go on unscathed is foolish, but to alternatively expect a 50% decline in what is the only bright spot in all of marketing is equally foolish.

Thoughts? Where do you think online advertising is headed in 2009?