Mobile Was 57% of US Digital Spend in 2017 — Local a Hidden Beneficiary

Local Search Ranking

According to the IAB’s latest internet ad revenue report, out today, digital ad spending in 2017 reached $88 billion. That means it’s now bigger than TV in the US. Also noteworthy, mobile was 57% of the total or $50.2 billion. Google and Facebook are the main beneficiaries of this.

IAB 2017 ad spending data

Here’s a breakdown of some of the numbers by category (desktop and mobile):

  • Paid-search: $40.6 billion (vs. $34.5 billion in 2016)
  • Display: $27.5 billion (vs. $22.3 billion in 2016)
  • Video: $11.8 billion (vs. $8.9 billion in 2016)
  • Classifieds and directories: $3.4 billion (vs. $3 billion in 2016)


Most of “classifieds and directories” will be local, although that’s probably where eBay lives. And while the IAB doesn’t offer a breakdown of local ad spending, it’s a rising component of mobile SEM for sure. Mobile search was roughly $22 billion in 2017 according to the report.

In addition, location data is being used for audience/demographic targeting by large enterprises in display. While that’s not real-time location targeting or geotargeting, it should be considered part of the “local ad spend” because advertisers are ultimately driving offline transactions or trying to reach audiences in specific markets.

Accordingly there are many billions in “local” digital advertising (by brands, retailers and SMBs) in the numbers above. BIA argues that Google alone will see nearly $20 billion in “local” ad revenue in 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised if something approaching 40% or even 50% percent of total digital advertising in 2017 couldn’t be categorized in one way or another as local — because the ultimate objective of the spending was an offline transaction.

Indeed, local will continue to grow as a source of digital advertising revenue over time.

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