While the increase is tiny, it is the first time in six quarters that there has been a rise. It is estimated that $1.47bn (£920m) was spent on online advertising in the third quarter, compared with $1.46bn in the second quarter of the year.
Compared year-on-year, the picture was not so positive. Sales were down by 18% for the quarter compared with the third quarter of 2001. However, this was a smaller fall than between the second quarter of 2002 and the second quarter of 2001, where sales fell 21.9%.
The news comes as many of the largest websites have already shifted their revenue models to be less reliant on advertising, including Yahoo! and America Online. The findings come in a report compiled by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
It showed that nine of the top 15 companies selling interactive advertising saw year-on-year growth revenue growth averaging 66% for the third quarter of 2002, compared with the same period last year.
Greg Stuart, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, claimed that the report did not reflect the full level of growth in online advertising. He said: "While we are reporting a modest gain, quarter to quarter, the reality is that the growth in the interactive advertising sector, as demonstrated by the top 15 sellers, is much stronger than is reflected in this report."
Tom Hyland, chair of the PricewaterhouseCooper's new media group, said: "The return to positive growth in both online and offline media is a healthy sign for the overall advertising industry, but should be viewed cautiously, as we believe that the positive steps that are being taken are as much cost-driven as they are recovery oriented.
"Add to that the historically stronger performance of the fourth quarter, and it appears interactive advertising may end the year with two consecutive growth quarters."
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This article was first published on brandrepublic.com