There's no shortage of forecasts focused on the growth of smartphones, tablets, mobile operating systems and mobile applications. Perhaps that's not surprising since the wireless world is inherently device-centric and because of the broader shift underway from PCs to mobile-based computing. With the latest hot gadgets grabbing headlines, though, it's easy to lose sight of what the adoption of devices means for marketers. How does it translate into ad spending?
A recent Gartner report projects mobile advertising worldwide will more than double this year, to $3.3 billion -- and grow to $20.6 billion by 2015. The North American market will account for about a fifth of that total this year, or $707 billion, and 28% in 2015, or $5.8 billion. That's equal to about 20% of the estimated $26 billion in U.S. online ad spending in 2010.
How does that total break out? In 2011, search- and map-related advertising will account by far for the largest share of ad dollars, at nearly $1.5 billion globally. Mobile Web display and in-app display ads will each account for just over $800 million, audio/video will generate $96 million, and SMS/MMS and Instant Messaging advertising will make up $112.5 million.
By 2015, the split in ad spending will level out as display closes the gap with search. Search in four years will account for about $7 billion; mobile Web display, almost $6 billion; in-app display, $5.3 billion; audio/video, $2 billion and SMS/MMS/IM, $247.3 million.
Besides the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other devices, Gartner points to mobile-specific innovations in advertising that will help to attract spending, especially at the local level. These include click-to-call search and display ads, location-based ads, camera-activated search and barcode scanning, group-buying services like Groupon, and mobile payments and point-of-sale redemption.
In the apps versus mobile Web debate, the research firm expects the former to have the upper hand when it comes to drawing ad dollars until 2013, "when the mobile Web will eventually return as HTML5 standards become established." And while the growth rate for mobile advertising will peak in 2011 and in 2012, more than doubling each year, it won't reach its optimum point for some time.
"We expect that targeting and contextualization, especially in social sites and applications, will carry on improving throughout the forecast period and beyond," stated the report.