Mobile Ad Revenues $3.4 Billion, Search The Biggest Contributor

iab-logo-0922Yesterday, the IAB released digital ad revenue figures for the US market in 2012. Overall Internet ad revenue came in at nearly $37 billion, making the Internet the second largest medium after broadcast TV. Mobile and video advertising were the two biggest digital advertising growth drivers, according to the report (PDF).

Mobile ad revenues came in slightly under $3.4 billion for the year, representing 111 percent growth over 2011. Mobile revenues grew from 5 percent in 2011 to 9 percent of total digital ad spending in 2012.

Digital ad formats 2011 vs 2012

Source: IAB, PwC

The $3.4 billion mobile advertising figure was lower than what some firms had projected. For example, eMarketer expected US mobile advertising to come in around $4.1 billion in 2012, and IDC estimated that US mobile ad revenues were $4.5 billion 2012.

The IAB didn’t break down mobile ad revenues by format, as it had in 2011 (that may come later in the year). Here’s what mobile ad revenue looked like in 2011 by category:

2011 mobile ad revenue

Source: IAB, PwC

In the 2011 numbers above, search was 48 percent of mobile revenue in North America, while display captured 34 percent. Messaging-related (SMS/MMS) mobile revenue was just under 18 percent. Putting aside messaging, which has no real online equivalent (maybe email), the search and display numbers basically tracked the PC ad-format figures.

In IDC’s just-released 2012 mobile ad report, it didn’t account for any messaging revenue and divided mobile advertising between search and display accordingly:

  • Search: 61 percent of mobile ad spending  ($2.8 billion)
  • Display: 39 percent of mobile ad spending ($1.7 billion)

Again, IDC’s overall number was more than $1 billion higher than what the IAB reported yesterday. And, IDC’s search figure (61 percent) is probably too aggressive, as well.

If we take the IAB breakdown of 2011 and apply it to the 2012 mobile ad revenue total, this is what it would look like:

  • Search (48 percent): $1.63 billion
  • Display (34 percent): $1.15 billion
  • Messaging (18 percent): $0.61 billion

It’s quite likely that the actual search-revenue contribution is somewhat greater than 50 percent, but probably not the 61 percent IDC estimated.

Danny Sullivan has taken exception to the IAB lumping all mobile revenue into a single bucket rather than breaking it out by category, as the trade group did in 2011 above. However I suspect that will happen later this year.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Features & Analysis | Statistics: Mobile Marketing | Statistics: Spend Projections


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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