Digital Ad Spending Surges to Record High as Mobile and Social Grow More Than 50%

Mobile Marketers Hiked Outlays 66%

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Domestic digital advertising revenue surged to a record-breaking $59.6 billion for the 2015 calendar year, a 20% uptick over last year's also record-breaking numbers, the Interactive Advertising Bureau said Thursday in a report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Digital advertising growth was driven by mobile, which climbed to $20.7 billion, a whopping 66% upswing from the previous year. But social media shared the spotlight, growing 55% to $10.9 billion, up from the previous year's $7 billion.

"Six consecutive years of unabated growth, coupled with the fact the industry has now been measuring revenue for 20 years, I think this is pretty stupendous," said Sherrill Mane, senior VP of research, analytics and measurement at the IAB. "The fact viewability and combating ad fraud has reduced supply, but revenue and pricing is growing, means there is a higher demand for higher-priced inventory."

David Silverman, partner at PwC, said display-related advertising has significant potential for future growth. The segment was up 3%, or $13.9 billion, in 2015. However, digital video, a component of display-related advertising in PwC's study, saw a 30% increase to $4.2 billion.

Given the high prices commanded by video, display-related advertising overall might do a lot to fuel digital's future growth. "Display-related advertising is continuing to grow on both mobile and desktop," he said. "It is far from a flat category."

Meanwhile, search contributed $20.5 billion to digital advertising in 2015, an 8% increase over last year.

Retail advertising continues to represent the largest category of internet ad spending, responsible for 22% in 2015. It was followed by automotive and financial services, which each accounted for 13% of the year's revenues.

The report included data from online advertising revenues from websites, commercial online services, email providers like Gmail and Yahoo, as well as all other companies selling online advertising, the IAB said. It is issued twice a year. PwC does not audit the information.

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