US Online Ad Revenues Continue Growth, Set Q1 Peak

June 12, 2012

iab-q1-online-ad-revenues-1996-2012-june2012.pngOnline advertising revenues continue to climb upwards, according to June 2012 figures from the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Revenues in Q1 set a new peak of $8.4 billion, representing a 15% increase from Q1 2011’s $7.3 billion. Despite this solid growth rate, it actually represents a slowdown from Q4, which grew at a more rapid 20.4% year-over-year, to $8.94 billion. The Q1 growth rate of 15% compares with 17.47% projected growth this year in US wired and mobile internet advertising spending, per a separate report released in June by PwC.

Q1’s Peak Follows New Highs Reached in 2011

iab-annual-online-ad-revenues-2002-2011-april2012.jpgThe Q1 growth comes after April 2012 figures, also from the IAB and PwC, showing that internet advertising revenues reached a record $31.74 billion in 2011, representing a 21.9% increase from $26.04 billion in 2010. This was the most rapid year-over-year growth since 2007 (26%), and drove online ad revenues past cable TV ad revenues (including national networks and local cable TV), which were $30 billion. Looking back over the past 10 years, the April report notes that online ad revenues have a compound annual growth rate of 20.3%, with 29 of 36 quarters since 2003 seeing positive growth.

Q4 revenues rose 20.4% year-over-year to $8.97 billion, also up almost 15% quarter-over-quarter, while H2 revenues accounted for 53% of the 2011 total. The year-over-year growth in Q4 revenues was the fastest since Q4 2007.

Search Retains Top Share; Mobile Grows Fastest

iab-internet-advertising-formats-share-of-total-april2012.jpgSearch remained the top advertising format by revenue share in 2011, a position it has held since 2006. Search accounted for 46.5% of revenues, up almost 4% from 44.7% in 2010. In dollar terms, search revenues reached $14.8 billion, representing an increase of close to 27% from $11.7 billion the previous year.

Display-related ad revenues was the next-largest category, at 34.8% share, comprised of display banner ad (21.5%), rich media (4.1%), digital video (5.7%), and sponsorship (3.5%). Total display-related revenues were $11.1 billion, marking a 15% rise from $9.6 billion in 2010. While display banner ad and rich media both declined in their share of total revenues, digital video and sponsorship each saw roughly a 1% point increase in share.

Classifieds revenues accounted for 8.1% of 2011 revenues, down from 10% in 2010. In dollar terms, 2011 revenue was $2.6 billion, unchanged from the previous year.

Mobile took 5% share of the 2011 revenues, up from 3% in 2010. This was the fastest-growing category, rising 149% to $1.6 billion, from $641 million in 2010. Mobile revenues fueled 3.7% of the total online ad revenue growth of 22%.

The share of total revenues held by lead generation fell from 5.1% to 4.8%, although the dollar amount of lead generation revenues grew 15% from $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion.

Email revenues accounted for the smallest share of revenues, at 0.7%, unchanged from 2010, with 9% growth in dollar amount from $195 million to $213 million.

2012 revenue projections by format, along with other 2011 data from a variety of recent studies can be found here.

Retail Industry Still Biggest Spender

iab-share-of-internet-ad-revenues-by-vertical-2010-v-2011-april2012.jpgRetail advertisers represented the largest vertical in terms of internet ad spending, at 22% share, slightly up from 21% last year. Retail industry spending in 2011 stood at $7.1 billion, up 21% from $5.5 billion a year earlier.

Financial services was the next-largest vertical, at 13% share, or $4.1 billion, up from 12% share (and $3.2 billion in spending) in 2010. Financial services overtook telecom, which fell from 13% share in 2010 to 12% share in 2011, although spending rose from $3.5 to $3.9 billion. Automotive advertisers (11%; $3.5 billion) and computing advertisers (8%; $2.7 billion) rounded out the top 5 verticals, both with unchanged share of total revenues from 2010.

Leisure travel (8%), consumer packaged goods (6%), pharmaceuticals and healthcare (5%), media (5%), and entertainment (4%) were the other verticals comprising the top 10.

Other Findings:

  • Ads using performance-based models increased from 61% to 64% share of the total revenues. Impression-based ad share of spend fell from 33% to 31%, continuing a decline begun in 2007. Hybrid ads accounted for the remaining 4% share of online ad revenue, which is significantly down from 13% share in 2005.
  • Performance-based pricing held 64% share of revenues in Q4, up slightly from 63% in Q4 2010. The CPM model held steady at 32% share, while hybrid decreased from 5% to 4% in that period.
  • Search accounted for 46% share of spend in Q4 2011, up from 43% in Q4 2010. Display-related advertising held 35.3% share, comprised of display banner ads (22%), digital video (5.5%), sponsorship (4.2%), and rich media (3.5%).
  • The online advertising space remained concentrated in Q4 2011, with the top 10 ad-selling companies accounting for 71% of total revenues, down marginally from 72% a year earlier. Overall, the top 50 companies commanded 90% of online ad revenues in Q4 2011.
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