Online Ad Industry Looks to Be Climbing Out of Recession

ad revenue chart


Internet companies who’ve had a sticky year of it may be heartened to learn that there’s been a sharp-ish rise in online ad revenue in the last quarter of 2009. Figures released today by the Interactive Advertising Bureau show that Q4 income was up 13.8% and, although the year’s total was down from 2008’s figures by 3.4%, its $22.7 billion makes the online industry look a lot healthier than others.

David Silverman, of Price Waterhouse Cooper, who compiled the data alongside the IAB, sees the news as heartening for the online sector. “While the overall advertising market has continued to be impacted by current economic conditions, marketers are allocating more of their dollars to digital media for its accountability and because consumers are spending more of their leisure time online.”

online ad revenue

The lion’s share of the revenue came from the search sector, with 47% of the total spend. Display and banner ads took 23%, classifieds 9%, but digital video was up by an amazing two-thirds, from 3% during Q4 of 2008 to 5% in the same period last year. Tonight, everyone affected by the bullish figures will be saying a little prayer to the smartphone market.

online revenue

Breaking down the individual spends, year on year, from each industry, the retail sector, although responsible for one-fifth of the total revenue, was down by 2%, with telecoms and media both outdoing the previous year’s performance.


Traditionally, Q4 revenues are always higher than the three predecessors, but these results look promising. And if the industry is well and truly over the worst of it, then it’s the first quarter of 2010 that will be the clincher. With Google’s purchase of AdMob, and rival Apple getting their hands on Quattro wireless, plus the arrival of its iPad, the mobile ad business in 2010 should make 2009 look puny in comparison.

The full press release can be read here (PDF.)

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.