IAB Changes Reporting Method, Finds Online Ad Drop

Using methodology strikingly different from its previous studies, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) this week said Internet advertising revenue in the U.S. sunk 6.5 percent in the first quarter compared to the previous quarter, coming in at $1.55 billion.

The IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers put together the report by surveying a group of Internet ad sellers, which it says have consistently accounted for the lion’s share of revenues, and extrapolating from the total revenue number to come up with an industry-wide figure.

Previously, the IAB actually surveyed “all companies that sell meaningful online advertising revenues.” The group said the change would allow timelier reporting, although it previously — in better times for the industry — conducted the full reports as often as quarterly, with results released just as quickly as this year’s estimates.

Under the new schema, estimates will be released for first and third quarters, with the full reports, including the first and third quarters, issued after the second and fourth quarters. Inquiries to the IAB about the changes weren’t answered by press time.

The IAB’s quarterly revenue numbers, which have been released since 1996, are widely considered the benchmark for the industry. The trade group has consistently trumpeted its reports’ methodology made the results the most accurate measurement of the state of online advertising.

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