Prices for display ads have been dropping for some time. The suspects are easy to identify: the poor economy, which is not only reducing ad budgets but also driving marketers to more direct-response search ads, and the ever-growing glut of inventory on the infinite Web. Dropping ad prices are one reason Yahoo reported disappointing earnings on July 21 and CEO Carol Bartz saw no firm sign of a turnaround.

But there's at least one sign that things may be improving. PubMatic, which helps online publishers run more lucrative ads, says in a new report out Thursday morning that it's seeing a steady increase in the price of display ad space sold through ad networks and exchanges. They've risen 47% since the end of January (35% since the end of 2008, January being a weak month for ad spending). Pricing has risen every month since the start of the year.

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