NEW YORK: Online adspend declined by 5%, to $5.5 billion (€4.0bn; £3.5bn), in the US in the first quarter of this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

The two organisations report that online ad revenues are now below the total of $5.9bn recorded in Q3 2007, after reaching a peak of $6.1bn at the end of last year.

Randall Rothenberg, president/ceo of the IAB, argued that "Interactive advertising has taken its rightful place as a fixture on marketing plans across sectors, which means we aren't immune to broader economic trends."

However, he added that online "continues to gain share" of total marketing spend, and that he was "confident that growth will resume as the U.S. economic climate improves."

Speaking about the US market, Wal-Mart's chief marketing officer, Stephen Quinn, also argued that "we were fortunate that this recession came along," as it "played to our positioning really well."

He suggested that the economic downturn fed into the "kinds of things we were working on anyway", and that these are "are the same things we need to do to keep these so-called 'new' customers, and, I think, continue to build loyalty with our existing base."

Data sourced from Interactive Advertising Bureau; additional content by WARC staff