December 18, 2012, 12:47 PM

After Facebook and Twitter successes, eMarketer revises its mobile ad sales predictions

U.S. mobile ad sales will soar 180% to $4.06 billion this year.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

U.S. mobile ad spending is growing faster than previously expected, due in large part to the success of ad formats like Facebook’s mobile newsfeed ads and Twitter’s promoted products, research firm eMarketer Inc. says. These formats appear the same to consumers across desktop and mobile platforms—which means the social networks are able to earn revenue as consumers spend more time on mobile devices with smaller screens not designed for desktop display ads, eMarketer says.

Spending on mobile advertising in the U.S., including display, search and messaging-based ads served to mobile phones and tablets, will rise 180% this year to $4.06 billion from $1.45 billion in 2011, the research firm predicts. EMarketer previously forecast substantially slower growth of 80%, to just $2.61 billion. Now eMarketer expects U.S. mobile ad spending to hit $7.19 billion next year, $11.14 billion in 2014, $15.82 billion in 2015 and $20.89 billion in 2016.

Facebook’s third quarter mobile ad sales is one big reason eMarketer is changing its tune. The social network offered no mobile ads at the beginning of 2012. Before Facebook’s Q3 earnings call, most analysts expected U.S. mobile ad revenue of roughly $45-100 million, eMarketer says. The share of revenues attributed to mobile advertising, 14%, surprised analysts. EMarketer, which bases its predictions on data from research firms, investment banks and other sources on ad revenues, impressions, pricing and other factors, now says Facebook’s U.S. mobile ad revenues will hit $339.3 million this year.

Google Inc. also exceeded mobile ad growth expectations in Q3, energized by direct-response advertisers, eMarketer says. Google, with a predicted $2.17 billion in mobile ad sales in 2012, will control a 56.6% share of the $3.84 billion U.S. mobile advertising market by year’s end, eMarketer says.

Following are the companies offering mobile advertising and the predicted 2012 mobile ad sales in millions, according to eMarketer:

  • Google, $2,171.4
  • Facebook, $339.3
  • Pandora, $224.8
  • Twitter, $134.9
  • Apple (iAd), $123.8
  • Millennial Media, $93.7
  • Other, $750.7

EMarketer also breaks out the share mobile ads will represent at Facebook and Twitter this year and in the years ahead. At Facebook, mobile will account for 15.7% of all online advertising in 2012, 31.7% in 2013 and 38.0% in 2014, eMarketer predicts. At Twitter, mobile will account for 52.0% in 2012, 55.0% in 2013 and 60.0% in 2014.


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