Online ad revenues up, sponsored content revenues down in 2012

IAB | The Wall Street Journal

Revenues from digital advertising reached nearly $37 billion in 2012, the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual report says, up 15 percent over 2011. Mobile advertising accounted for 9 percent of the total. Display advertising accounted for 33 percent, and search was 46 percent. Video advertising was up 29 percent over 2011.

As good as that news may seem, there's no guarantee that this wave of cash will wash ashore at news organizations. IAB spokesperson Laura Goldberg tells Poynter the report does not break down revenue by web property category. But analyst Mary Meeker pointed out last year that there is a "steep imbalance between where people spend their time and where advertisers spend their money," as Jeff Sonderman put it.

Another reason to contain one's optimism: Any rise in digital spending must be viewed in relation to the steep decline in print ad revenue. Rick Edmonds reported last week that a Newspaper Association of America survey found $5.5 billion in previously uncounted revenue at papers. Digital ad revenues at the papers surveyed, he notes, accounted for 17 percent of all ad revenue.

Need another reason? Revenue from sponsored content dropped 25 percent, Keach Hagey reports. Compared to display ads, "sponsorship includes some other factors that were perhaps less measurable," PricewaterhouseCoopers' David Silverman tells Hagey.

Related: State of the News Media 2013 shows how industry is responding to ‘continued erosion’ of resources | The problem with Sunday papers: Why rising numbers are not what they seem | Trends show online ad revenue will overtake print this year | The one chart that should scare the hell out of print media

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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