Search Ad Revenues Hit Record $16.9 Billion in 2012 [Report]

Search ad revenues once again broke records in 2012. Search remained the revenue leader at $16.9 billion, accounting for 46 percent of all Internet advertising revenue, although this figure doesn’t even include mobile search ads in the Internet Advertising Bureau’s 2012 report.


In 2011, search advertising accounted for $14.8 billion (46.3 percent of all digital advertising).

The IAB noted this year’s 14.5 percent increase in revenue was “slightly below the overall industry growth of 15.2%, likely due to a shift to Mobile Search, now captured in the Mobile format.”

The new Mobile advertising format ($3.4 billion, 9 percent of revenues) basically lumps together any ads that appear on mobile devices (smartphones, feature phones, and tablets), including display, text messaging, search, and audio/video ads. So while “search” was “slightly below” industry growth, it’s likely due to the IAB’s own format change.


Overall, the IAB reported total U.S. advertising profits of $36.6 billion for 2012 – up from $31.7 billion in 2011. Also noteworthy: Q4 2012 revenues surpassed $10 billion for the first time.

Elsewhere, display advertising revenues accounted for $12 billion (33 percent) of revenues in 2012, up from $11.1 billion (dropping from 34.8 percent overall) in 2011.

The IAB’s numbers come from its twice annual Internet Advertising Revenue Report. IAB officials sponsor the study, which is performed independently by the new media group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

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