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Culture

Web ad sales lose some momentum in first quarter

From January to March, Internet ad spending hit $5.8 billion, down from an all-time recorded high of $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007, new research shows.

For the first time since 2004, quarterly sales of Web advertisements dipped slightly from the previous three months, according to new research released Tuesday.

From January to March, Internet ad spending hit $5.8 billion, down from an all-time recorded high of $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Not since the end of 2004 has ad spending retreated slightly from a quarterly percentage growth.

The upside is that first-quarter sales represented an 18 percent rise from the comparable period in 2007. And the quarter's expenditures were the second-highest ever recorded by the IAB.

David Silverman, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, attributed the drop to the overall economic downturn and a typical retraction in media advertising spending from the fourth to first quarter. "The fundamentals of interactive advertising spend continues to be positive and I would expect to see continued growth in the future," he said in a statement.

The IAB and PWC did not break out types of spending, e.g. search vs. display advertising. But a recent report from TNS Media Intelligence showed that the growth of display ad spending has been hit hardest by economic belt-tightening.