U.S. online ad market grows in Q1

The latest statistics are viewed as a sign that digital media is pulling out of the recession

Online advertising spending grew 7.5 percent in the U.S. in the first quarter, a clear sign that the digital media industry is recovering from a rough 2009, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

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Revenue hit US$5.9 billion, the highest-ever total for a first quarter, as an improving economy fosters confidence among companies and results in increased marketing spending in areas like online advertising.

While a level of uncertainty still hovers over the recovery process, it's encouraging to kick off 2010 with a strong quarter, the IAB said in a statement Thursday.

This wasn't the case in 2009, when U.S. online ad spending shrunk 5 percent to $5.5 billion in the first quarter, year on year. That was the first year-on-year quarterly drop since 2002 and broke a string of 24 consecutive year-on-year quarterly increases. For the entire 2009, spending ended up dropping 3.4 percent compared with 2008.

Separately, comScore reported on Thursday that impressions of display ads rose 15 percent in the first quarter, year on year, to a record $1.1 trillion.

Spending on this ad format totaled $2.7 billion, or $2.48 per thousand impressions (CPM), comScore said.

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