"It's still growing, but it seems to be slowing," he said, citing a progression that began eroding from the first quarter to the second quarter, which appears to be continuing into the third quarter.
During the first quarter of 2008, Swallen said online display advertising rose about 8.6%, but the rate of growth ebbed a percentage point to 7.6% during the second quarter of 2008. TNS MI's preliminary data for July shows online display ad spending rising only 5.5%.
Swallen said the online display market is mirroring a pattern of deceleration across the major media, as marketers and consumers begin to lose confidence in the overall economy.
"If you look at the trend line, we've seen deceleration throughout the second quarter, and July is looking a lot like the latter half of the second quarter," he said, using terms like "collateral damage" and "body bags" to describe the impact of the economic fallout on the advertising economy.
"The question for all of these media is when does the consumer economy begin to stabilize, and when does consumer psychology begin to strengthen and give marketers more confidence in the economy," he said. "I don't know if we're at the bottom of valley yet, or close to the bottom, but it doesn't' seem to be getting better."