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What Percentage of ~$50B in Digital Ad Revenue Is ‘Local’?

Earlier this week the IAB released its half year digital ad revenue report. The IAB estimated that US digital revenue was $49.5 billion for the first half of 2018. That compares with $40.3 billion a year ago.

Mobile advertising was responsible for nearly 63% of the total, up from 54% a year ago. Desktop revenue was roughly 37%. That makes sense given the distribution of time spent on mobile devices vs. the PC (per comScore):

mobile time spent

Paid search constituted 46% of total digital advertising at $22.8 billion. Mobile SEM contributed $13.5 billion of that figure. Overall, mobile (across all formats) brought in $31 billion of the $49.5 billion total.

BIA Advisory Services’ recently released its Survey of Advertising and Marketing  activities, which argues that, across businesses of all sizes, “two-thirds of their marketing dollars into activating local media ad platforms.” This includes traditional media like direct mail, newspapers and out of home.

Advertising: Top Media Channels

BIA forecast

Focusing in on the “mobile location aware” category, 35.5% of $31 billion (per the IAB) would be $11 billion. This may be an “Apples and Oranges” comparison, but it’s interesting to contemplate how much of the mobile total includes a location component. There’s also location-based mobile advertising where location is only in the background as an audience segmentation tool.

The 35% mobile location aware number — which is broader than just search but obviously doesn’t capture all location related ads — is probably a decent estimate. It corresponds to Google’s consumer mobile search figures. Officially the company says that 30% of mobile search carriers a local intent. In actuality the numbers are probably quite a bit larger. What I’m doing here is admittedly very crude.

As a final matter, digital is now arguably the largest single ad category across all media. I say arguably because digital is a much broader than other individual media channels and it may be unfair to consider it a single “medium.” It might be more appropriate to discuss digital vs. traditional media (combined), which would still make the latter larger.

IAB revenues by medium

Source: IAB/Nielsen

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