Digital Advertising Revenue Jumped 20% in 2015, According to IAB Report

And mobile is driving its growth

Digital advertising revenues reached $59.6 billion in the United States during 2015, marking a 20 percent jump compared to the year before, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual study today released today, which was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It marks the sixth consecutive year the IAB is reporting double-digit, year-over-year growth for online advertising.

"This is our 20th year of reporting," said Sherrill Mane, svp of research, analytics and measurement at the IAB. "After 20 years of being measured, the industry is still experiencing double-digit growth. I don't know if that's happened before to an industry being measured for [two decades]—I looked and failed. It's hard to find."

David Silverman, partner, PwC U.S., said that mobile, social and programmatic drove the continued growth in 2015. "The overall categories are being greatly impacted by the shift to mobile," he added.

Last year, mobile accounted for $20.7 billion of digital advertising, up 66 percent compared to 2014 and represents more than one-third of the entire space. Mobile display ads were responsible for 55 percent of that dollar amount, while 43 percent of it came from mobile search.

Online advertising—across mobile and desktop platforms—during 2015's fourth quarter reached $17.4 billion, a 23 percent increase from Q4 of the prior year.

More generally, what has surprised Mane and Silverman the most about numbers they've recently seen was that cost-per-thousand (CPM) ad rates continued to rise, in aggregate, despite the growing popularity of programmatic advertising.

"Programmatic is clearly not impacting pricing in any downward fashion," Mane explained. "If anything, it's boosting."

Meanwhile, here are several other interesting, desktop-based data points from the new research:

  • Digital video reached $4.2 billion, a 30 percent rise year over year.
  • Social media advertising brought in $10.9 billion, up 55 percent over 2014.
  • Search revenues hit $20.5 billion in 2015, up 8 percent year over year.
  • Display-related advertising revenues totaled $13.9 billion, an uptick of 3 percent compared to 2014.
  • Retail advertisers accounted for 22 percent of online advertising, followed by automotive and financial services, which were each responsible for 13 percent of the year's revenues.