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First Half Web Ad Spending Down 5.3%

U.S. advertisers spent $10.9 billion on Internet ads in the first half of 2009, a 5.3% decline from the same period last year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau said Monday.

Search advertising continued to represent the largest percentage of overall interactive ad spending, with search revenues reaching more than $5.1 billion in the half of 2009, up slightly from that same period in 2008, the group said in a report produced with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Display-related advertising–which includes display ads, rich media, digital video and sponsorship–totaled nearly $3.8 billion in the first six months of 2009, a 1.1% decline from the same period in 2008, the IAB said.

Digital video ads remained a tiny segment of the market with $477 million in spending, but the sector continued to show robust growth with a 38% increase from last year.

The report largely confirmed what Internet giants such as Google and Yahoo have been saying for months – that the economic downturn has taken its toll on Internet advertising, but not in an even fashion and not the to degree in which the offline ad market has suffered.

“We are in one of the most difficult economic slumps in decades. Interactive is one of the advertising sectors that has been least affected,” Randall Rothenberg, president and chief executive of the IAB, said in a statement.

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