Mobile dominated digital ad spend in 2015

Mobile Advertising

The numbers are officially in and they shouldn’t be a surprise.

In the second half of 2015, mobile surged ahead of non-mobile search in terms of dollars spent. IAB’s 2015 Ad Revenue report estimates that $59.6 billion was spent in 2015 on digital advertising. $59.6 billion is a 20% increase over 2014 numbers.

Mobile accounted for nearly 35% of total digital ad revenues.

Looking at Q4 alone, mobile accounted for 40% of total revenues. This is a 77% increase over the same time period in 2014.

Inside the mobile category, display — banner ads, video, rich media ads, etc. — lead the way with a 54% share. Mobile search follows at 43%.

In the latter part of 2015, search became a game of small screens. Mobile search overtook desktop search accounting for 40% share of digital ad revenue. Desktop search might be beaten but it’s not out. It clocked in at a still solid 32%, down from 37% during the same period in 2014.

Social media dominates our mobile lives and it’s starting to dominate our ad spends.

During the second half of 2015, social media ad spend grew dramatically, up $2 billion from the beginning of 2015.


  • Ad spend is following a fundamental shift in our media consumption habits. As our lives become ever more deeply entwined in our mobile devices, so to follows the marketers.
  • Mobile needs to be an integral part of your ad strategy but it presents some challenges. These challenges include proper attribution, cross-device tracking and optimization and crafting a meaningful advertising experience with limited screen space. Solutions are coming but they are not here yet.
  • Digital ad revenues are concentrated among only a few top companies. It’s a crowded marketplace and if you’re not one of the big guys, the money is there but capturing it is not easy.