Mobile Ad Spending Crosses 50% Threshold: $37 Billion in 2016

Two years ago mobile search surpassed query volume on the desktop. Yesterday, the IAB announced that mobile ad revenue had finally passed desktop digital revenue.

Total US digital ad spending was $72.5 billion in 2016, compared with $59.6 billion a year ago. Mobile revenue was 51% of the total and 53% in Q4. In real dollars, mobile was responsible for slightly under $37 billion in ad spending in 2016.

IAB mobile advertising 2016

Below is the breakdown by ad format. Search represented 48% of the total or roughly $35 billion. Various display formats captured most of the remaining $37.5 billion.

IAB 2016 ad formats

Clearly ad spending has followed consumer usage — and the trend should continue. How closely ad spending will mirror consumer behavior is an interesting and open question. According to recent comScore data, mobile now represents 70% of digital media time, however most e-commerce transactions still happen on the PC because of poor mobile experiences.

If ad spend in 2016 were directly aligned with time spent, mobile would have grabbed $51 billion of the total $72.5 billion.

What’s also interesting to consider is the degree to which location data will factor into mobile ad campaigns broadly. Because of how versatile location data are (audience targeting, attribution), we’re probably going to see location data integrated into almost 100% of mobile ad campaigns.

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