Thursday, April 8, 2010

IAB: Internet Ad Spending Drops 3.4% In 2009 To $22.7 Billion

As expected, U.S. online ad spending dipped last year for the first time since the 2001-2002 recession -- dropping 3.4% from $23.5 billion in 2008 to $22.7 billion in 2009, according to year-end data released Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. After running flat for most of last year, ad spending in the fourth quarter saw a seasonal lift, increasing 14% from $5.5 billion in the third quarter to $6.3 billion -- the most in any quarter to date.

IAB and Pricewaterhouse executives said the uptick pointed toward a rebound in digital ad budgets in 2010. "The record $6.3 billion spent on Internet advertising in the fourth quarter of 2009, while certainly aided by seasonal demand, is a strong indication that the worst of the economic impact on Internet advertising is over and that the seeds of growth have been planted," said David Silverman, a PwC Assurance partner, in a statement.

Market research firm eMarketer, which had projected a 2.9% decline to $22.8 billion in 2009, is predicting the overall economic recovery this year will lead to single-digit growth in online spending in 2010. Any turnaround should be easier than the last time because the drop-off last year wasn't as steep as in 2001 and 2002, when spending fell 12% and 16% respectively, before vaulting back to a 21% gain in 2003. But total online ad dollars since 2001 have roughly tripled, reducing volatility from year to year.

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