Though US Internet ad revenues were down 3.4% in 2009—to $22.7 billion from $23.4 billion in 2008—there are signs of an emergent recovery, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) reported.

Internet ad revenues in the fourth quarter were, at $6.3 billion, the highest quarterly figures for the year; moreover, they were up 2.6% from 4Q08 and up 14% from the previous quarter, according to the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report for 2009.

Search and display-related advertising continued to lead in overall interactive ad revenue in 2009:

  • Search accounted for 47% of total revenue, reaching $10.698 billion, up slightly from 2008.
  • Display-related advertising, which includes display ads, rich media, digital video, and sponsorship, accounted for 35% of ad revenue, reaching $7.965 billion, up 4% from the $7.640 billion a year earlier.
  • Among display-related formats, digital video registered the highest growth, up 39% to $1.017 billion (4% share), from $734 million (2% share) in 2008.

Sharp declines were registered in classifieds revenues, which fell to $2.254 billion (10% share), down 23% from $3.174 billion (14% share) a year earlier.

Lead-generation revenues accounted for 6% of 2009 revenues, or $1.451 billion, down 14% from $1.700 billion (7% share) in 2008.

Email revenues accounted for 1% of total revenues, or $292 million, down 28% from the $405 million (2% share) a year earlier.

Below, other findings from IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report for 2009.

Industry Revenue Concentration Remains High

The top 10 ad-selling companies accounted for 71% of total revenues in the fourth quarter of 2009, down slightly from the 72% reported a year earlier.

Companies ranked No. 11-25 accounted for 11% of revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009, compared with the 12% reported a year earlier, while those ranked No. 26-50 accounted for 8%, the same level as in 2008.

Performance-Based Pricing Gains

Some 59% of 2009 revenues were priced on a performance basis, up from 57% in 2008, while 37% of revenues were priced on a CPM or impression basis, down from 39% a year earlier.

Performance-based pricing, the most prevalent pricing model since 2006, has maintained a strong sequential growth rate over the past three years, while CPM/impression-based pricing has declined.

Hybrid pricing has dipped sharply, from 17% of revenue in 2004 to 4% in 2009.

Looking for great digital marketing data? MarketingProfs reviewed more than 200 research sources and selected 64 of the best to create the Digital Marketing Factbook a 144-page compilation of data and 110 charts, covering email marketing, search engine marketing, and social media. Also check out The State of Social Media Marketing, a 240-page original research report from MarketingProfs.

Ad Format Trends

Search has been the leading ad format since 2004 and has had steadily expanded its share of revenue.

Among the six major format categories, two have recorded sustained losses in percentage share: Sponsorship revenues have fallen from 8% of total revenues in 2004 to 2% of total revenues in 2009, while classifieds/directories revenues have dropped from 18% in 2004 to 10% in 2009.

The Internet has continued to grow in significance relative to other ad-supported media: Among five key US ad-supported media (television, radio, newspapers, consumer magazines, and Internet), the Internet's share of combined ad revenue grew from 8% in 2005 to 17% in 2009:

Ad Revenue by Industry

Retail advertisers accounted for the largest share (20%) of Internet ad spending in 2009, followed by telecom (16%), financial services (12%), automotive (11%), computing (10%), consumer packaged goods (6%), leisure travel (6%), entertainment (4%), pharma & healthcare (4%), media (4%), and other (7%).

About the data: Findings are from the IAB-sponsored Internet Advertising Revenue Report for 2009, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. 

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Internet Ad Revenues Rebounding, Reach $6.3B in 4Q09

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