Mobile Shines Amid Rising Digital Ad Spending

Global ad spend expected to top $500B in 2011 despite woes in major markets

For many advertisers and marketers, 2010 brought a welcome return to growth after the global recession. 2011 was widely expected to continue this positive trend, but in several major markets—including the US and UK—the specter of a double-dip recession is casting a dark shadow over businesses and consumers.

Such turbulence typically puts the brakes on advertising spending to some degree. But global ad spending will still approach $500 billion this year, eMarketer estimates, and digital advertising will remain a star performer following a 2010 in which growth in online ad spending outpaced all other platforms in most mature markets.

eMarketer estimates North America will continue to draw the greatest share of online advertising spending of any region, with over 40% of the worldwide total. Western Europe’s share of online spending will decline as emerging markets in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe up spending.

Meanwhile, mobile devices are transforming the media landscape in every corner of the world—especially in regions where they represent the default form of access to the internet. But mobile usage patterns still vary significantly, even within single regions.

In Asia-Pacific, for example, at least 83% of individuals in South Korea and Japan will use a mobile phone this year, eMarketer estimates, while India will register just 52% penetration. But markets with lower mobile usage are catching up fast. Within four years, mobile phone penetration in Asia-Pacific will climb from an estimated 55.4% to nearly 73%, and the region will boast an eye-popping 2.9 billion mobile phone users.

Marketers should also be alert to regional differences in the gender balance in mobile audiences. Similarly, the link between affluence and smartphone or mobile web adoption seen in many Western nations is not always a foregone conclusion in other regions.

Mobile ad spending in the US will reach $1.23 billion this year, eMarketer estimates, and will surpass spending in Japan, the current largest single-country market, by the end of 2012. While spending levels in emerging markets like the BRIC nations are lower, growth is strong. eMarketer expects mobile ad spending in China alone to top $1 billion by 2014.

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