Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Thankful Yet? Online Ad Revenue Improving, but Slooooowly.

I’d like to say this is a half-full, half-empty scenario. But the more I think about it, the more I’m thinking the latter.

Internet advertising increased a bit–1.7 percent, precisely–over the past three months. But that’s only when compared with the previous three months, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Compared with the same period a year ago, Web ads are still down 5.4 percent, the trade group said (see chart below; click to enlarge).

iab ad growth

Given that I work for a free, ad-supported Web site, I’m anything but an unbiased observer here, and I’d like to put a sunnier spin on things. But recall that the economy started its freefall well over a year ago, so comparisons to Q3 2008 should be particularly easy to beat. Even the boosterish IAB can only call the numbers a “hopeful sign” at best.

Still, if you’re looking for positive signs, you can take Google’s (GOOG) declaration that the worst is over, and I’ve heard plenty of anecdotal stories from small online players that spending is perking up again–though I’m also beginning to hear that some folks may have been overly optimistic about Q4. We’ll know soon.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work