Summary:

Double-digit growth is set to return to the online ad market this year, according to IDC. The market research firm says it expects online ad…

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Double-digit growth is set to return to the online ad market this year, according to IDC. The market research firm says it expects online ad spending to jump 12.6 percent to $29.7 billion in the U.S. By contrast, spending dropped 2.4 percent in 2009.

Signs of a comeback are aplenty. During the fourth quarter, online ad spending increased 4.5 percent year-over-year to $7.4 billion, leading to several “firsts,” according to IDC analyst Karsten Weide. Among them: A new record was set in terms of “absolute spending;” online’s share of total ad spending passed 10 percent for the first time, and it was the first period of growth after three consecutive quarters in the red.

The improvement in the market is happening sooner than IDC had expected. In November, the firm said that growth would come in the first or second quarter of this year and predicted that fourth quarter growth would be flat.

Worldwide, online ad spending increased 7.6 percent year-over-year during the quarter to $16.7 billion. By contrast, growth was flat during the third quarter.

IDC’s full report has still not come out — but Weide published a summary (subscription required) on Friday.

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