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Web ad sales to hit $6.9 billion

Internet ad sales will rise by 12 percent to $6.9 billion this year, buoyed by expected economic growth and the industry's own improving reputation, according to a report Thursday from TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, a market research firm. George Shababb, senior vice president of strategic planning and development for TNS/CMR, said the Web ad market continues to attract more blue-chip advertisers as it matures. Mixing that in with a potential economic revival, the presidential elections and the summer Olympics this year, Net ad sales will get a boost, he said.

The sales estimates include all forms of online advertising, except sponsorships and the growing commercial search business, which financial analysts estimate will reach nearly $2 billion in 2004. Shababb said that the company is evaluating whether it will begin tabulating paid search.