Online ad revenues grew by 15% year-over-year in 2012, per the latest revenue report [pdf] from the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), but the rising tide of online ad spending didn’t lift all boats. For the year, search remained dominant, at 46.3% share of revenues, but was down ever-so-slightly from 46.5% share in 2011, as revenue growth moderately trailed overall internet ad spend growth (14.5% vs. 15.2%). The researchers attribute that to a shift to mobile search, with those revenues now part of the mobile format. That format showed the most rapid increase, with spending up 111%, as mobile increased its share of online revenues from 6% to 9%. Mobile is now the third-largest online advertising format, passing classifieds and digital video.
Digital video didn’t do so badly for itself, though. In fact, expenditures on digital video commercials grew by 28.8% year-over-year, contributing to a 0.7% point climb in video’s share of overall revenues, to 6.4%.
The second-largest ad format, display/banner ads, saw a below-average increase in spending of 13.4%, meaning that its share of total revenues dropped slightly from 21.5% to 21.1%. Also seeing a below-average gain was lead generation, which saw 11% growth in revenues while dropping 0.2% points to 4.6% share.
Advertisers are moving away from some formats, though. These include:
- Classifieds, with a 5.8% decrease in spending, and a 1.5% point decline in revenue share (to 6.6%);
- Rich media, with spending down 24.6%, and share of expenditures down 1.1% points (to 3%);
- Sponsorship, also with a 24.6% decline in spending, contributing to a 1.2% point drop in revenue share (to 2.3%); and
- Email, with expenditures down 26.8%, and share of revenues falling 0.3% points to 0.4%.
The Q4 results are also illustrative of online ad spend trends, as it was the largest quarter on record. In Q4 2012, search accounted for a leading 44% share of spending, but that was down from 46% in Q4 2011, and was also below search’s full-year share of 46.3%.
The 2 fastest-growing formats, mobile and digital video, had especially good quarters. Mobile accounted for 11% of Q4 online ad spending, up from 6% the previous year, and above the full-year results showing mobile’s share at 9.2%.
Digital video, meanwhile, accounted for 7% of Q4 2012 spend, up from 5% a year earlier, and slightly higher than its overall average of 6.4% for the year.