Good news for America's internet firms, as new surveys show rises in web advertising and expenditure on online content.

A report from Nielsen/NetRatings shows that financial services and telecoms firms are leading a surge in internet adspend. These two categories hiked their web outlay by $100 million (€85.7m; £59.9m) between the first quarters of 2002 and 2003 – an increase that accounts for over half the $172m rise in total online spend over the period (as measured by the Internet Advertising Bureau).

Marketers in other sectors are also shifting more of their ad budgets onto the internet. Auto firms spent $57m on the web in Q1 this year, up from $27m twelve months earlier. The insurance/real estate category invested 29% more online than a year earlier; travel/hotel/resort advertisers raised their outlay by 15.5%; and there were also increases at pharmaceuticals and business/consumer services firms.

"For some of these large-spending industries," commented Charles Buchwalter, Nielsen's vp of client analytics, "the online share of total media spend continues to be small, but these 'small' shares are shares of huge total spending, which is why online ad spending is starting to show some real gains after more than two years of free fall."

Buchwalter believes total online adspend could rise 15% this year.

Separately, a survey from the Online Publishers Association and comScore Networks found that Americans spent $748m on internet content in the first six months of 2003, up 23% year-on-year.

One of the biggest growth areas is personals/dating sites. Consumers spent around $214.3m on these services in the first half, a 76% rise on H1 2002.

Around 10.9% of the web population paid for content in the second quarter. Generally, these surfers are younger and more affluent than the typical internet user.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff