Online Ad Spend Up 15% in 2012, Setting Yet Another Peak

April 17, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Digital | Mobile Phone

IABPwC-Online-Ad-Revenues-2003-2012-Apr2013It’s becoming somewhat repetitive to use the words “online ad revenues” and “record” in the same sentence. Yet once again, online ad spend has reached a new peak, hitting $10.31 billion in Q4, up 14.9% year-over-year, according to [pdf] the latest revenue report from the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers. That bests the previous peak for a quarter, set in Q3, which itself came after a record for first-half revenues. So it doesn’t require tremendous powers of deduction to determine that full-year spending on internet advertising reached another high in 2012, growing by 15.2% to hit $36.57 billion. At this point, only another severe economic recession looks capable of stopping more records from being set this year.

There’s more to it than that, of course. Here are some interesting statistics from the report:

  • Between 2003 and 2012, online ad revenues have grown at an annual compound rate of 19.7%. That’s actually slightly slower than the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) recorded between 2002 and 2011, of 20.3%, as 2012’s 15.2% year-over-year rise was a step down from 2011’s 21.9% increase.
  • Between 2003 and 2012, 32 of the 40 quarters have experienced positive quarter-over-quarter growth.
  • Second-half revenues in 2012 reached $19.5 billion (record alert!), up from 2011’s $16.8 billion. Those $19.5 million represented 53% of 2012’s total spending, which is consistent with prior years. The researchers attribute the greater spend in the second half primarily to online advertising growth, although seasonality plays a role.
  • Online advertising continues to be a highly concentrated affair: in Q4, the top 10 ad-selling companies accounted for 72% of revenues. They represented 71% a year earlier.
  • Not to be outdone, companies ranked 11th to 25th accounted for another 10% of revenues in Q4 (down from 11%), while those ranked 26th to 50th represented 7% of revenues (down from 8%).
  • To recap, the top 50 ad-selling companies accounted for 89% of online ad revenues in Q4 2012.
  • Among the various formats, mobile spending grew quickest in 2012, at 111%. More on that tomorrow.
  • The retail sector continued to be the biggest spender, at 20% share of expenditures last year. That was down from 20% in 2011, though.
  • None of the other top 10 spending categories changed their share of revenues by more than 1% point.
  • 66% of revenues last year were priced on a performance basis, up from 65% in 2011 and 41% in 2005.
  • 32% were priced on a cost per medium/thousand (CPM) basis, up from 31% in 2011, but down from 46% in 2005.
  • About 2% of revenues were priced on a hybrid basis, down from 4% last year and 13% in 2005.
  • Burying the lede? The internet, with its $36.6 billion in advertising revenues last year, now only trails broadcast TV by $3 billion (data source unnamed in the report), and has moved squarely ahead of cable TV ($32.5 billion) among advertising media.

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