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IAB: Internet ads actually doing OK

A 5.3 percent shrinkage in online advertising for the first half of 2009 isn't all that bad, when compared to rest of the ad market, new figures indicate.

Nobody's surprised: Internet-advertising revenues fell slightly in the first half of 2009, according to numbers released Monday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The trade group found that online-ad revenues dropped 5.3 percent to $10.9 billion year over year, representing a total loss of $610 million. That's an understandable loss, given how much the media business has had the wind knocked out of it, thanks to the recession. But the slide in digital advertising isn't nearly as dire, when compared to the overall ad industry, which fell 15.4 percent.

The IAB also brought up numbers from Nielsen indicating that online advertising is essentially flat--and that the only sector of the ad industry that is growing is cable television.

PwC partner David Silverman called online advertising "a vibrant, sustainable industry," and he reiterated that it's an "industry that really didn't exist more than 12 years ago."

There was not much talk about social-media advertising, which has made somewhat of a breakthrough in recent months: after much criticism that it would never be able to make much money, social ads got a boost from Facebook's announcement that it had reached a cash flow-positive status several quarters earlier than expected.

The social network, which now has more than 300 million active users, has been dipping a toe into virtual-commerce revenue streams but is still supported primarily by advertising.