Corporate Eye

Half of Digital Ad Expenditures Come from Auto, Finance, and Retail Industries

advertising revenues moneyThis month, the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) released its mid-year 2013 Internet Advertising Revenue Report. While the key finding most people will talk about is the significant increase in ad revenues during the first half of 2013, which climbed 18% from $17 billion mid-2012 to $20.1 billion for mid-2013, there are a few findings that are actually more impressive.

The Big Three Verticals

First, nearly $1 out of every $2 in digital advertising revenue realized during the first six months of 2013 came from three verticals:

  • Retail = 20% of advertising revenue
  • Financial Services = 14% of advertising revenue
  • Automotive = 12% of advertising revenue

Competition is fierce for digital consumers’ attention, but there are big opportunities for brands in other industries to claim the digital space with targeted advertising.


Second, mobile is exploding. During the first half of 2013, mobile revenues jumped by 145% to $3 billion, which is significantly higher than other areas tracked in the IAB research. For example, search advertising revenues rose by just 7% to $8.7 billion during the same period.


Third, digital video advertising (part of display-related advertising) continues to attract advertising budget investments. Digital video advertising climbed 24% to $1.3 billion in revenue during the first six months of 2013 while overall display-related advertising revenues climbed 9% to $6.1 billion.

Consumers are living in a multi-screen world in 2013, and brands need to be present when and where consumers want the kind of information, help, products, and services those brands can provide. Advertisers are finally starting to make a shift in large numbers, and they’re following customers rather than hoping those customers will revert to the old ways of consuming content, finding information, researching products, and making purchases.

Digital Advertising Since 1996

The IAB report also offers a yearly analysis of digital advertising revenue growth. When the IAB report was first published in 1996, digital ad revenue for the first six months of the year was $82 million. The following year, digital ad revenue grew by 320% to $344 million during the first six months of 1997. The accelerated growth rate piqued in 2000, when a 147% year-over-year growth rate brought half-year digital advertising revenue to over $4 billion. Thirteen years later, mid-year digital ad revenue has surpassed $20 billion.

A lot has changed in the world of brand marketing and advertising since 1996, but two things are certain—digital video advertising and mobile advertising will continue to grow very quickly. There is no stopping progress, and savvy brand marketers know that simply keeping up with that progress isn’t good enough.

Image: Levy Choi

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.