While 2002 Internet ad revenue was down a whopping 17% from 2001, the fourth quarter was down only 10% from the fourth quarter of 2001, and it was up 2% from the third quarter of last year. This is the first quarterly increase since the second quarter of 2000. This information is from the Internet Advertising Bureau / PriceWaterhouseCoopers advertising estimate for the last quarter of 2002.

Remember, ad numbers that are more than a couple of years old contain a lot of junk, including the tail-ends of some awful long-term deals and hundreds of millions of dollars in phony advertising that AOL has since written off. Under the circumstances, this quarterly increase is very encouraging and may mean that Internet advertising has hit bottom and will grow again on an annual basis when the ad market as a whole recovers.

The IAB release mentions in passing (1) 15 online publishers are getting 80% of the revenue, and (2) “the majority of online publishers are profitable, and their revenues continue to rise year-over-year”.