US online adspend hit new heights in the fourth quarter, surpassing the record set in the dotcom boom, interim figures suggest.

The internet ad study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and sponsored by the Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates Q4 spend at $2.2 billion (€1.7bn; £1.2bn), up 38% year-on-year and 26% on the previous quarter.

This beats the $2.12bn record set in Q4 2000, after which online ad revenues spiralled downwards for seven successive quarters.

For the whole of 2003, the IAB/PwC research indicates that web ad revenues totalled $7.2bn, up 20% from 2002 but 11% lower than in the boom year of 2000.

However, the figures for the second half are still only preliminary, based on the top fifteen online advertising sellers. In the past, these early estimates have often been revised down later. Final adspend totals for 2003 are due out in April.

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