Mobile Advertising Hit $5.3 Billion In 2011

The Interactive Advertising Bureau earlier this year estimated U.S. mobile ad spending at $1.6 billion in 2011. Looking beyond U.S. borders, the IAB issued a new report today estimating the global mobile advertising market at $5.3 billion, with a wide gap between developed and emerging regions.

Asia-Pacific, for example, represented 35.9% of worldwide mobile ad spend, North America, 31.4%, and Europe, 25.9%. That compares to Latin America, with just 3.5%, and the Middle East and Africa, at 3.2%. The study, conducted by the IAB’s Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence in the U.S., IAB Europe and research firm IHS Screen Digest, also broke out mobile advertising for each region by type: display, search and messaging.

Across the board, search accounted for the largest share of mobile ad spending, typically at least double the amount of display for a given area. In North America, spending was more balanced, with search contributing $811 million, display hit $572 million and text message advertising, $295 million for a total of $1.68 billion.

In Asia-Pacific, search was $1.38 billion, display, $491 million and messaging, just $41 million, totaling $1.9 billion. Similarly, the $900 million spent on search in Europe was almost three times more than display ($367 million), with messaging at $114 million. That adds up to $1.38 billion.

As a proportion of mobile ad spending, text messaging was biggest in Latin America, accounting for $83 million out of a total of $188 million on the continent. Of the balance, $74 million went to search, and $31 million to display.

For the Middle East and Africa, just $3 million was spent on text ads, $89 million on search and 32 million on display, totaling $124 million. 

The IAB explained one of the reasons behind the study was to underscore the global nature of mobile advertising. “This is not just a local, or even European affair. As many mobile campaigns are played out in a global ecosystem, the market we have to size spans across borders,” stated Alain Heureux, president and CEO of IAB Europe.

Research presented by Kleiner Perkins partner and Internet guru Mary Meeker showed mobile usage still far outpaces mobile monetization. Mobile usage hit 10% of global Internet traffic in May, up from about 5% last year. While monetization is lagging that growth, Meeker predicts dollars will eventually catch up with eyeballs in mobile as they did on the desktop Web. 

In terms of methodology, the IAB explained that IHS authored the research based on identification of mobile ad spend reported by IABs, harmonizing the data and employing statistical and econometric models to infer a global market size, split across advertising formats.The findings also reflect information from interviews with “key players across the mobile advertising ecosystem.”

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