US Online Ad Sector Turning the Corner?

20 December 2002

America’s long-suffering online ad sector may be turning the corner, judging by new figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The IAB’s survey of third-quarter internet spend – encompassing search and classified listings as well as banner, pop-up and pop-under ads – found total advertising revenues of $1.47 billion (€1.43bn; £0.92bn), up marginally from $1.46bn in Q2.

Such a rise may be slight, but it is the first gain for six quarters, prompting hopes that the sector may be on the brink of recovery. Indeed, fourth-quarter ad revenues are expected to be up again or, at worst, the same as in Q3.

However, it should be remembered that third-quarter figures were still down 18% compared with the same quarter in 2001, and that the report includes the ad revenues of only the fifteen leading online media groups.

The combined figures also mask varying spending patterns between different firms. Of the companies surveyed, nine reported an average year-on-year jump in online revenues of 66%, meaning the poor performance of some groups – not least America Online, where ad sales have fallen in the region of 42% this year – is dragging the total down.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff