IAB: Digital ad revenue catapulted to $88 billion in 2017

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Digital advertising had yet another record-breaking year in 2017, as ad revenue totaled $88 billion, a 21 percent upswing from 2016, the Interactive Advertising Bureau said Thursday in a report prepared by PwC.

Mobile captured the majority of those ad dollars, as expected, comprising 57 percent, or about $50 billion, up from $36.6 billion reported in 2016.

There were no surprises, but here are several takeaways from the IAB's ninth report of a record-breaking year.

Video, social, search and audio

Mobile video generated $6.7 billion in ad revenue last year, according to the report, up 54 percent year-over-year and topping desktop video ($5.2 billion) for the first time. Overall, the format is up 33 percent to $11.9 billion, the IAB says.

Social continued its surge, notching a fifth consecutive year of double-digit percentage growth with a 36% leap to $22.2 billion in 2017.

Search advertising continued its dominance, but didn't capture as much of the overall revenue pie as in years past. The format generated $40.6 billion in 2017, up 18 percent from $34.6 billion in 2016, with 54 percent coming from mobile. However, search captured 46 percent of overall ad revenue in 2017, down from 48 percent in 2016, the IAB said.

Meanwhile, digital audio advertising, which was introduced to the annual report last year after the format had topped $1 billion in ad sales for the first time, rose 39 percent to $1.6 billion in 2017. Seventy-seven percent those ad dollars came from mobile. "With the proliferation of smart speakers, we expect that to be a growth category next year," the IAB said Thursday during a presentation of its report.

Statue of the duopoly

The report derives from a complex process of information gathering that involves looking at everything from 10-K filings for financials to LinkedIn for far less direct signals.

Although some companies provide the IAB with ad revenue info, Google and Facebook almost certainly do not. The IAB doesn't break out revenue for individual companies, and it remains unclear how much the two contributed toward the $88 billion generated in 2017. The trade body says that the top 10 companies contributed more than 74 percent of all digital ad revenue in 2017.

When asked what share the top two represented, the IAB declined to comment.

Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal Research, presented during the IAB's call with reporters on Thursday. Wieser says Google and Facebook are capturing 90 percent of all growth in digital advertising.

This and that:

  • Banner advertising is up 23 percent to $27.5 billion, 67 percent of which came from mobile.
  • The cost per thousand impressions, or CPM, increased 6 percent to $14.72 for display and 3 percent to $25.22 for video.
  • Terrestrial radio ad revenue grew 1 percent to $17.6 billion.
  • Out-of-home advertising increased 4 percent to $9.6 billion.
  • Although it's been reported elsewhere for some time, digital advertising surpassed TV for the first time in the IAB's bi-annual revenue report. The trade body says TV saw a 3 percent decline, and generated revenue of $70 billion–about $18 billion short of digital's total in 2017.
  • See what we predicted yesterday about the IAB's report from today (hint: mostly wrong, but we were in the ballpark!)
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