U.S. online advertising revenue climbed 34 percent to $16.8 billion during 2006, setting a new record for the third consecutive year, according to estimates released Wednesday by an industry trade group.
Last year’s online ad spending totaled nearly $4.8 billion during the fourth quarter — the most recorded for any three-month period during the 10 years that the Interactive Advertising Bureau has been tracking the Internet’s growth as a marketing medium.
The fourth-quarter volume represented a 32 percent increase from the same time last year.
Advertisers have been steadily shifting more of their budgets online to follow the increasing numbers of consumers who are spending more time on the Internet instead of watching TV or reading newspapers and magazines. Online ad revenue in the United States has more than doubled from $7.3 billion in 2003.
The trend has been a boon for Internet leaders such as Google Inc., which earned $3.1 billion last year, and a financial strain for off-line media such as newspaper publisher Knight Ridder Inc., which was pressured into selling to McClatchy Co. last year because its revenue had shriveled.
“All signs point to a steady increase in the level of spend by traditional advertisers that are using online advertising as an important part of their media mix,” said David Silverman, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, an accounting firm that helps compile the 2006 ad data.
The numbers provided Wednesday may be revised next month when the Interactive Advertising Bureau plans to release a more detailed report on ad spending.