More than GH¢30 million worth of advertising transactions has been placed online in the last six months despite complaints of economic slowdown.
The recession is accelerating the migration of advertising spending to digital technology - from more traditional media such as print, radio and television advertising to online, according to online experts.
Mr Kwabena Opoku-Boakye, Marketing Manager for the free classified website, Tonaton.com, said the Internet was widely perceived as a cheaper and easier way of finding lower prices and bargains in most sectors, especially on the property market.
Experts say the annual value of the Ghanaian online advertising is set to reach GHc 200 million by the year 2015.
According to him, the growth in Internet access and users making more regular and expensive purchases online meant the trend would continue.
His company, Tonaton.com, has drawn more than 101,000 classified ads since it entered the Ghanaian market in April this year.
“We have a rollercoaster of a year ahead, but even in tough economic conditions, marketers still recognise the value, accountability and measurability of online advertising."
He forecast that online retail transaction sales would reach more than GH¢ 100 million or US$40 million by the close of 2014.
Mr Justin Mawuli, a blogger and online advertising shopper, said the tough economic times had led to a significant fall in TV, radio and print advertising spending, which saw it being overtaken about a year earlier than most had expected.
He said Ghanaian Internet users now spent an average of 12.3 hours a week online, compared with 11.3 hours watching TV, and 4.4 hours reading newspapers or magazines.
As a result of this increased Internet usage, 36 per cent of people who go online spend less time looking at the television as a result.
Mr Mawuli, who has done an extensive research on online usage, said search engines would continue to dominate online advertising spending, followed by display advertisements and e-mails.
E-mail campaigns, classified adverts, display ads and search marketing are all classed as online advertising, he said.
“There is encouraging growth in online advertising but in many cases the revenue is not going to be enough to sustain content-based sites”, he stressed.
For officials of Tonaton.com, the trendy free classified online website has put in a lot of effort in getting to where it is now.
“Tonaton.com is now the largest online classifieds website in Ghana, making it the fourth biggest local website according to Alexa.com”, Mr Opoku-Boakye.
Since its launch in April this year, Tonaton.com has been visited by over 2.4 million unique visitors. This confirms Tonaton.com’s status as one of the fastest growing websites in Ghana.
He said the website’s foremost competitive advantage, among others, was that it had a customer support team in Ghana which manually reviews all the ads that are posted on the site.
This, he said, had helped to keep a clean inventory and to keep up the fight against fraudsters who invade online websites to perpetrate fraud on the general public.
The website’s marketing manager confirms that as of October 21, 2013, rival competitor, Google Trader, had dispatched emails to its users that effective November 11; the site would no longer be available for posting new ads or reposting existing ads. All ads were to remain on the site till they reach the expiry period after which they would no longer be available.
The Country Manager of Google, Ms Estelle Akofio-Sowah, confirms in an interview that the withdrawal of Google trader from the provision of free classifieds ads platform was to enable the online search engine space to focus on its core business and allow Tonaton to take up the local market with its free online portal.
“This move is to allow us to focus on providing a global digital technology platform to subscribers worldwide and allow Tonaton.com and others to do what they know best”, she said.
One of Tonaton.com’s main features is the sorting of ads according to geographical areas and prices, allowing for easy browsing and locating of goods and services at the consumer’s preferred price and area.
With this easy to use interface and hassle free posting system, Tonaton.com has drawn more than 101,000 classified ads since it entered the Ghana market.
The value of these ads is estimated at GH¢ 10, 167, 666 million (US$ 4,374,514,648) which represents about 5.2 per cent of the country’s GDP, which is estimated at US$42.4 billion, according to the IMF.
Trends elsewhere in Europe
The annual value of pan-European online advertising is set to reach 16bn euros (US$22bn; £10.8bn) by 2012, more than double that of 2006, says a study.
The report by research body Forrester said online adverts would leap to 18 per cent of market share, up from nine per cent currently.
It said 52 per cent of people were now regularly online, spending more time doing so than watching television.
The UK will continue to see the most online advertising in the next four years, ahead of Germany and France.
European Internet users now spend 14.3 hours a week online, compared with 11.3 hours watching TV, and 4.4 hours reading newspapers or magazines, the research group said.
As a result of this increased Internet usage, 36 per cent of people, who go online, said they spent less time looking at the television as a result.
The report said search engines would continue to dominate online advertising spends, followed by display advertisements and e-mails.
Online advertising spending in the UK has overtaken television expenditure for the first time, a report has said.
Online spending grew by 4.6 per cent to £1.752bn in the first half of 2009, while TV spending shrank 16.1 per cent to £1.639bn.
Overall advertising fell 16 per cent compared to the same period in 2008 said the study by the Internet Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.