Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Web Ads Are Growing Again. But by How Much?

We know that the Web ad business (and the ad business in general) is much better than it was a year ago, when it was awful. How much better?

Pick your data point:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau says U.S. spending on Web ads hit $5.9 billion in the first quarter of 2010. That’s a record for the first quarter of the year, but it’s a relatively modest 7.5 percent increase over a very crummy comparison in 2009.

And bear in mind that the IAB’s data include search spending, which means that the spike is in large part a reflection of Google’s (GOOG) health.

Want a bigger number? Try comScore, which says that the volume of display ads, i.e., the kind you might see on this page, shot up 15 percent in the last year. But while comScore (SCOR) says total spending on display ads hit $2.7 billion for the quarter and that the average CPM (cost per thousand impressions) hit $2.48, it isn’t reporting how those numbers compare to last year’s results.

ComScore spokesman Andrew Lipsman says his company isn’t putting out comparative numbers because it has changed its reporting methodology, so it doesn’t have apple-to-apples data. But he allowed that overall spending, and prices, have at least increased “modestly” in the last year.

So that’s not-bad news for display giants like¬†Yahoo (YHOO) and AOL (AOL). And most definitely not for Facebook, which is now selling more ad impressions than any other Web publisher in the U.S.