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Digital advertising reaches a record $36.6 billion in 2012

April 16, 2013|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Digital advertising revenues have been propelled by growth in mobile advertising and strong gains in video.
Digital advertising revenues have been propelled by growth in mobile advertising… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Digital advertising revenues reached a record $36.6 billion in 2012, propelled in part by triple-digit growth in mobile advertising and strong gains in video, according to newly released statistics from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Internet advertising rose 15% from the record levels of a year ago, with ad revenues surpassing those of cable television in the United States, according to the latest IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report.

For the second year, spending on mobile devices more than doubled as advertisers continue to follow consumers onto their smartphones and tablets. Mobile advertising rose to $3.4 billion in 2012, up 111% from the prior year's record levels. Mobile advertising now accounts for 9% of all digital revenue.

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Advertising tied to Internet search words or phrases continues to dominate digital spending by brands and marketers, accounting for 46% of 2012 revenues. Search revenues reached $16.9 billion last year, up 14.5% from 2011.  

Display advertising accounts for roughly one-third of brands' digital spending, with revenue reaching $12 billion last year from $11 billion in 2011. Digital video is the fastest-growing sector of the display market, climbing 29% to $2.3 billion in 2012.

Linda Gridley, chief executive of the investment bank Gridley & Co., said mobile and digital video, together with social media, will "underpin everything we're going to talk about" in the digital space.

Mobile device shipments will exceed those of PCs this year, Gridley said, even as people spend more time watching videos on multiple screens. Helping fuel this change in consumer behavior is the higher quality and expanded breadth of digital video content, she said.

"This was the beginning of the year of mobile," Gridley said. "Finally, advertisers are playing a catch-up game with consumers."

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