U.S. online ad spending drops for first time in eight years

U.S. online ad spending fell 3.4 percent to $22.7 billion in 2009 from $23.5 billion in 2008, marking the first decline since the 2001-2002 recession according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Looking at the half-full glass, however, advertising in the fourth quarter was up 14 percent over the third quarter ($6.3 billion versus $5.5 billion). That uptick, while still impacted by seasonal demand "is a strong indication that the worst of the economic impact on Internet advertising is over and that the seeds of growth have been planted," said PricewaterhouseCoopers assurance partner David Silverman.

It's not exactly clear how this potential resurgence in Internet advertising will affect the cable TV space which is increasingly linking the Internet to a number of television-based devices. According to IAB/PwC, the Internet accounts for 17 percent of combined U.S. ad-supported media spending behind local spot TV and newspapers and ahead of cable TV, network TV and radio.

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