Mobile Advertising Skyrocketed 111% Last Year

IAB report also reveals big growth for digital video

Mobile advertising spend jumped 111 percent to $3.4 billion during 2012, per an Interactive Advertising Bureau report today, accounting for 9 percent of all digital ad revenue last year. It marked the second consecutive year of dramatic mobile growth, after seeing a 149 percent year-over-year increase in 2011, according to the IAB.

A more mature ecosystem of mobile ad exchanges deserves at least some credit for the niche's continued explosion, said David Silverman, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which prepared the trade org's report. "They have certainly made the buying experience easier—similar in what we've seen with online [exchanges]," he said. "But there are a whole host of other factors that have created the growth of mobile. Really what's happened is everybody is staring at their cellphone now. Marketers are trying to reach them where they are at—on elevators, at coffee shops, etc. The inventory is there, and the people are there. You combine those elements with localization, and mobile presents a great opportunity."

Moving forward, the study found that 2012 digital ad revenue overall hit $36.6 billion—a 15 percent lift compared to 2011's $31.7 billion. In addition to mobile, digital video had a huge year, marking a 29 percent increase ($2.3 billion total) over 2011. 

The report also found that search ad sales were up 14.5 percent, totaling $16.9 billion, compared to the year prior—more good news for Google as well as Bing. Display ads lifted by 9 percent to $12 billion year over year during 2012, the IAB said.

"I think [display] will surprise some people given some low-level noise in the marketplace about where money may be going," said Sherrill Mane, IAB's svp of research, measurement and analytics. "It was a really strong showing among banners."

Silverman addressed how Facebook, Twitter and other social media entities fit into the 2012 findings. "We think the growth of social media has had a tremendous impact on sellable inventory, particularly in the display category," he said. 

Lastly, retailers accounted for 20 percent of total Internet advertising during 2012, followed by the financial services category at 13 percent.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.