Yowie! Mobile Ad Spend Share Doubles In A Year

The staggering growth of mobile ad spend in the second quarter of 2013, per the IAB/PWC numbers released yesterday, needs to be underscored. As we reported already, overall digital ad spend in the U.S. ballooned from $8.7 billion in Q2 2012 to $10.3 billion this year. But the mobile growth story and the velocity of the shift is amazing. The $1.6 billion of mobile ad spend in Q2 this year was not only up 149% over same period last year, but it fully doubled the share of the digital ad economy that mobile now commands -- now 16%. Mobile alone is accounting for almost as much a share of digital as online display (19%).

On a 6-month basis the picture is similar. Mobile revenues of $3 billion represented 15% of digital spend in the first half of the year -- more than double the 7% of the same period last year and up 145%. This also means mobile spend has almost eclipsed display among formats and it has outdistanced classified, lead-gen, rich media and even video as a share of revenues. Of course, mobile embraces all of those formats. It would be interesting to see deeper into those numbers and how mobile impacts overall format mix.

At some point the IAB will have to stop lumping all of mobile into a single bucket, both in terms of format and in terms of devices. In some ways these numbers, while impressive and encouraging for the post-PC transition, raise as many questions as they answer. How is the migration of ad money impacting strategy and pricing models? The numbers suggest that the share of campaigns using performance rather than CPM models actually dipped a bit in the first half of 2013, from 67% to 65%. CPM pricing was up from 31% share of revenues to 33%. I wonder if mobile impacted that at all? Are we seeing a format shift as money moves to mobile? Is the device-based ad economy not only moving money, but also moving our thinking about what digital marketing is and what it might become?  

The deeper picture around mobile is the degree to which it moves us away from a previous century of mass media, reach and frequency models for advertising. In some ways the one-to-one marketing relationship that digital media promised on the Web has only been half-realized. The personal device presses the point and the need for genuinely personal, service-oriented, localized interactions with consumers.   

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