U.S. venture investment is off to a slow start in 2012, according to new figures from Dow Jones VentureSource, affected by a sharp drop in the digital media sector.

Overall, companies raised $6.3 billion in the first quarter, down 18 percent from the same period a year ago.

Investment social media, entertainment and shopping aggregators, which the study groups together as the consumer Internet sector, fell 76 percent and deals fell 17 percent to $375 million raised for 88 deals during the first quarter.

That needs to be seen in perspective, however, since the investment total was inflated by large closings from mature companies, including the $870 million raised by Zynga and LivingSocial combined.

“Now that some of the mature Internet companies that soaked up billions in venture capital the last couple of years have gone public or are near an exit, we’ll see if venture investors approach a fresh crop of start-ups with the same zeal or if investment remains at the level we saw in the first quarter,” said Zoran Basich, editor of Dow Jones VentureWire.

Related links:

Dow Jones VentureSource – media summary

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