Internet Ad Revenues Rise to Historic $17 Billion in First Half 2012, Up 14% Over Half-Year 2011, According To IAB

Mobile Increases Almost Two-Fold Year-Over-Year

NEW YORK – In the first half of 2012, internet advertising revenues climbed to an all-time high of $17 billion, representing a 14 percent increase year-over-year, according to IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and prepared by PwC US. This performance is compared to the landmark $14.9 billion reported for the first six months of 2011.

Also marking a 14 percent year-over-year increase, second quarter internet ad revenues for this year hit $8.7 billion, up from $7.7 billion during the same time period in 2011.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Mobile generated significant growth – almost doubling year-over-year figures – up 95 percent to $1.2 billion in half-year 2012 from $636 million the comparable period in 2011
  • Digital video, a component of display-related advertising, saw an increase of 18 percent year-over-year, bringing in a little over $1 billion in revenue in the first two quarters of 2012 compared to nearly $900 million in the first six months of 2011
  • Search revenues in the first half of the year totaled $8.1 billion, up 19 percent from nearly $6.8 billion during the same timeframe in 2011
  • Display-related advertising revenues in the first half of the year totaled almost $5.6 billion, accounting for 33 percent of 2012 half-year revenues, up 4 percent from $5.3 billion in the first half of 2011
  • Retail advertisers constitute the largest category of internet ad spending for the first half of this year, claiming 20 percent of the total revenues at $3.4 billion, while automotive brought in $2.2 billion for first-half 2012, marking an uptick to 13 percent versus 11 percent of category spend reported for half-year 2011 at $1.7 billion

“This report establishes that marketers increasingly embrace mobile and digital video, as well as the entire panoply of interactive platforms to reach consumers in innovative and creative ways,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB. “These half-year figures come on the heels of a study from Harvard Business School researchers that points to the ad-supported internet ecosystem as a critical driver of the U.S. economy. Clearly, the digital marketing industry is on a positive trajectory that will propel the entire American business landscape forward.”

“The tremendous growth of mobile advertising revenue over the past year is an indication of the importance of location to advertisers and mobility to consumers,” said David Silverman, a partner at PwC US. “Bringing the power of the internet to mobile devices has opened up a world of possibilities to both consumers and marketers.”

“Solid double-digit growth in a stagnating economy is a significant accomplishment,” said Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics and Measurement, IAB. “There is evidence that CPMs are maintaining, and even increasing, further substantiating the vitality of the internet ad market.”

Annual Figures

The following chart highlights half-year Internet ad revenue since the IAB began measurements in 1996; dollar figures are rounded.

Year Revenue % Growth
HY 2012 $17,028 14%
HY 2011 $14,941 23%
HY 2010 $12,127 11%
HY 2009 $10,900 -5%
HY 2008 $11,510 15%
HY 2007 $9,993 26%
HY 2006 $7,909 37%
HY 2005 $5,787 26%
HY 2004 $4,599 40%
HY 2003 $3,292 11%
HY 2002 $2,978 -20%
HY 2001 $3,720 -7%
HY 2000 $4,013 147%
HY 1999 $1,627 110%
HY 1998 $774 125%
HY 1997 $344 320%
HY 1996 $82
Total $111,624

Ad Category Breakouts (in millions)

HY 2011 * HY 2012
Search 46% ($6,843) 48% ($8,128)
Display Related: 36% ($5,349) 33% ($5,586)
-Banner Ads 22% ($3,266) 21% ($3,622)
-Digital Video 6% ($891) 6% ($1,053)
-Rich Media 5% ($727) 3% ($495)
-Sponsorship 3% ($465) 2% ($416)
Mobile * 4% ($636) 7% (1,242)
Classifieds 8% ($1,235) 7% ($1,160)
Referrals/Lead Generation 5% ($800) 5% ($834)
E-mail 1% ($79) 0% ($78)

* Revised from prior year to include mobile as a discreet category

Revenue Pricing Models (in millions)

HY 2011 HY 2012
Performance-Based 64%
Impression-Based 31%
Hybrid 5% ($686) 2% ($368)

IAB sponsors the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report, which is conducted independently by the New Media Group of PwC. The results are considered the most accurate measurement of interactive advertising revenues because the data is compiled directly from information supplied by companies selling advertisements on the internet.

The survey includes data concerning online advertising revenues from web sites, commercial online services, free email providers, and all other companies selling online advertising. The full report is issued twice yearly for full and half-year data, and top-line quarterly estimates are issued for the first and third quarters. PwC does not audit the information and provides no opinion or other form of assurance with respect to the information.

A copy of the full report is available at:

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit

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