Slate Sees 30% Q1 Ad Revenue Gain

In another sign that the online advertising market’s recession-driven malaise is nearing an end, Slate, one of the oldest publications on the Web, reported 30 percent ad revenue growth in the first quarter of 2010.

While Slate did not release specific dollar figures, a robust increase of that sort is noteworthy, given that Slate has been around since 1996 and is well past it startup growth phase.

Meanwhile, the story was even better for the Slate Group, a collection of Web content sites owned by the Washington Post Co. that includes, The, and Collectively those sites enjoyed a 52 percent surge in online advertising revenue in the first quarter.

The positive digital ad growth demonstrated by Slate and its brethren comes on the heels of strong earnings announcements by several of the Web’s biggest players, including Yahoo, Microsoft and CBS Interactive — indicating that perhaps the once-flaccid display market is bouncing back.

Slate officials noted that several blue-chip brands had signed on in Q1 as exclusive advertisers, including Ford, which sponsored the launch of the site’s new video venture, as well as Mercedes-Benz USA and Acura–both of which sponsored specific editorial packages.

“We see this enthusiasm from our audience and advertisers as proof that great journalism is good business in the digital era,” said John Alderman, Slate’s publisher. “Our success during the first quarter is a promising bellwether for the Slate Group and for the online publishing industry.”

Slate’s upward online ad momentum comes just as the company positions itself to pull further away from print and explores selling Newsweek.