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Mobile Gains Greater Share of Search, Display Spending

More digital spend shifts to mobile, especially in search

Digital ad spending continues to shift from desktop to mobile devices, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates on US ad spending.

Search has already undergone a dramatic shift in spending toward mobile, which will continue into the future. In 2010, just 2.1% of all digital search ad dollars were spent on mobile devices. This year, that share will reach 22.1%, and by 2017, eMarketer expects, US advertisers will spend 59.6% of all digital search dollars on mobile.

Search is still king of the US digital ad spending market, but its hold on the crown is getting shakier each year. eMarketer’s latest forecast of US ad spending, including digital ad formats, pegs search ad spending at $19.6 billion this year. That includes search ads on desktop and laptop computers as well as mobile phones, tablets and other connected devices.

Digital display spending is still lower, at an expected $17.6 billion this year, including outlays on banners, video, rich media, sponsorships and other display formats, like Facebook’s Sponsored Stories or Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. Next year, combined spending on display formats will reach $20.6 billion, close to search’s expected $21.6 billion in spending, and by 2015 display will pull ahead.

The shift for display dollars toward mobile is a bit slower, but on a similar track: This year, 21.7% of all digital display ad spending will be on mobile, rising to 48.4% by 2017.

Other formats account for significantly less digital ad spending, expected to grow at below-average rates throughout the forecast period. Video, though still a relatively small slice of the display pie, will continue to be the fastest-growing digital ad format throughout eMarketer’s forecast period.

In the world of mobile alone, search is a more heavily favored format. This year, eMarketer expects 51.5% of all spending on mobile ads to go toward search, compared to 44.8% for display ads, including banners, video and other formats. Like in the digital advertising market as a whole, display formats are growing more quickly on mobile than search—but not fast enough to overtake search spending by 2017.

Based on data released since our last forecast in June 2013, eMarketer has increased our estimates of mobile ad spending as a whole as well as of spending on search and display formats. Previously, eMarketer expected mobile search spending to reach $3.95 billion this year, while display was expected to come in just shy of $3.38 billion.

eMarketer bases its estimates of digital ad spending by format on the analysis of reported revenues from major ad-selling companies; data from benchmark sources the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC); estimates from other research firms; consumer internet usage trends; and eMarketer interviews with executives at ad agencies, brands, online ad publishers and other industry leaders.


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