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PARIS -- French Internet advertising has moved past cinema ads to become the country's fifth most important media, according to a year-end study published by the Internet Advertising Bureau and accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Total spending on the Internet reached $170 million in 2000, reflecting 134% growth over net Internet ad spending in 2000 and more than double the $75 million spent on cinema advertising last year, according to the IAB survey.

Neither the IAB nor PriceWaterhouseCoopers are willing to comment on reports that the dot-com burnout has seen Internet advertising plummet this year, stating that their joint surveying outfit aims to take a medium-term view of the overall market, rather than reacting to its changing temperature on a month-by-month basis.

The 2000 study -- which is based on a confidential study of actual ad revenues reported by more than 80% of the leading French Internet sites -- highlights three important trends in online advertising.

First, IAB notes that the Internet is becoming a "seasonal" media. Advertisers spent far less online during summer months, when consumers flee cyberspace for the beach, than in the fall prelude to the Christmas shopping season.

Second, the report confirms the continuing dominance of banner ads, which represent 77% of all online ad spende in France during 2000, but notes that this figure has declined from an 87% share in 1999, due to the emergence of new forms of advertising, including e-mail and site sponsorship.

Third, IAB notes that all 46 business sectors surveyed advertised online in 2000, but that the ongoing dominance of new media advertisers -- principally content and portal sites -- were responsible for 32% of net ad spend last year, vs. 21% in 1999. -- Lawrence J. Speer

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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