Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Digital Ad Growth Slows, but Mobile Doubles

Ad optimist? Pessimist? Today’s data dump from a digital advertising trade group has something for both of you.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau says digital ad spending grew 14 percent in the first half of the year. That’s a lot better than traditional advertising, or just about any other industry. But it’s also slower than last year, when digital ad spending grew 23 percent during the same period.

You can pick any excuse you want to explain the slowing growth, and all of them might be true: The economy is wobbly, last year’s growth numbers were still part of the bounceback from the 2008/2009 recession, and/or perhaps digital ads are simply not going to grow as quickly anymore, because they’re not a brand-new industry anymore.

But if you want rocket growth off a small base, you can find that in the IAB report, as well. Mobile ads nearly doubled, to $1.2 billion, during the first half of the year.

Mobile accounted for 7 percent of digital ad spending during the first six months of the year, and 8 percent of spending in Q2, as you can see in the charts below (click image to enlarge):

Look for a version of this report to show up in all sorts of mobile ad start-ups’ pitch decks in the next few months. But do remember that those charts could also be used to make the case for Google: The IAB counts mobile search ads in its mobile-only numbers, which means that a good chunk of those dollars belong exclusively to Larry Page and company.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik