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Web ad sales hit another record high

In annual study with PwC, Interactive Advertising Bureau finds that sales are on track to reach more than $12 billion this year.

Sales of Internet advertising have continued their long rally, reaching a quarterly all-time high of $3.1 billion in September, according to a new study.

As a result, Web ad sales are on track to reach more than $12 billion for the year, up from $9.6 million in 2004, according to trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual study conducted in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Third-quarter sales marked a 33.9 percent rise over the same period in 2004 and were part of almost 12 months of positive growth for online ads since the dot-com bust. Sales for the three months ended in September were also 4.7 percent higher than second-quarter sales of $2.9 billion.

Search engine marketing has been the biggest buoy to an Internet advertising turnaround, comprising almost half of annual sales in the last year. But sponsorships and commercial-like ads are also gaining traction as traditional advertisers adopt the Web for marketing campaigns.

Researchers attributed the growth to the Internet's popularity with consumers and its cost-effectiveness for marketers.

"The continued strength in Internet advertising reflects, in part, the medium's unique ability to collapse the business cycle for advertising, marketing and branding, making it more attractive for traditional advertisers," Pete Petrusky, director of advisory services at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said in a statement.

David Silverman, an audit partner at PwC, added, "The third-quarter figures are the most impressive we've seen yet."