NEW YORK: All things are relative, as Albert Einstein (pictured) pointed out. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute," said the sage, "and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute."

Thus it will be for online marketing over the next four years, which are likely to seem like ten, warns internet market statistics provider eMarketer.

Although outgrowing the torpid ad market at large, the Manhattan-based firm predicts US advertisers will spend $37 billion (€28.7bn; £24.38bn) on internet ads in 2009. A goodly sum – but down by $2.7bn (10%) on its forecast just three months back.

Nor will things get better in 2010. Or 2011. Or 2012

Over the entire four-year period, eMarketer estimates that $37bn will be spent on US online ads – an overall plunge of $13bn (26%) from the 2012 estimates that the forecaster drew up in August.

But this is where Einstein's maxim kicks-in.

eMarketer still expects the online ad market to grow by 9% next year – a slowdown from the 11% originally projected by the forecaster - but still growth that the internet's elderly uncles (TV, radio and print) would die for.

Search supremo Google will likely be the main beneficiary of the growth because its system for showing ads next to search results is expected to remain an effective marketing platform.

While the US search market in toto should generate $12.3bn next year, up slightly from its August estimate of $11.9bn.

Online display ads will also prosper – although not to the same extent – with a predicted growth of almost 7% to $4.9 billion in 2009. In August eMarketer estimated an increase of 14% to $5.9bn.

It seems that only forecasters with the psychic powers of Madame Blavatsky are likely to get it right in the current economic  maelstrom.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff