Growth in online ad spending by lending companies, a driver of Web spending, slowed in January as lenders grappled with the housing crisis. According to data from Nielsen Online, financial services companies spent $149 million online last month -- up 12.7% from January 2007. To put this uptick in perspective, the year-over-year increase from January 2006 to January 2007 was 58%. Ellen Siminoff, chairman of search-ad buyer Efficient Frontier, said, "It's either not the kind of growth we've seen in the past or there are spending changes altogether."

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