Are E-books the Next Market for Digital Advertisers?

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With e-book sales at about $970 million this year and expected to rise significantly in 2011, many in the digital advertising industry are experimenting with ways to penetrate the market. If successful, Web marketers will have achieved something that traditional publishers have fought off for decades – ads appearing in books.

Google entered the e-book arena in a big way last week, instantly joining Amazon and Apple as the top-level retailers and dramatically increasing the market’s reach. That news, combined with the anticipated influx of tablet computers and e-readers to rival the iPad and Kindle throughout 2011, has ramped up enthusiasm in the online ad industry.

Companies that are currently experimenting with offering ads in e-books include self-publishing website Scribd, digital bookseller Wowio and e-publisher ScrollMotion. Each model is slightly different, with Scribd trying targeted ads based on what users are reading and Wowio sampling different methods of inserting $1 to $3 ads between the chapters of its e-books.

ScrollMotion is still in the development stage, but it’s safe to assume that there will be dozens of other companies testing their own models in the early part of 2011. Helping to fuel the interest in e-book advertising are the following statistics from Forrester Research:

• 7 percent of adults online read e-books, a figure expected to double in 2011.

• Users of e-readers consume as many as 40 percent of the books they read in electronic form.

• 35 percent of U.S. e-book readers use their laptops to read books, while 32 percent use a Kindle.

• E-book sales in the U.S. are expected to grow from a little less than $1 billion this year to more than $2.8 billion in 2015.

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