Online Ad Sales Rebound, Thanks to Site Sponsorships

IAG Ad Formats 2010Online advertising revenues reached a record $26 billion in 2010. That represents a 15 percent increase over last year’s anemic showing as advertisers continue to snap out of a recessionary haze and ramp up ad buys. According to PricewaterhouseCooper’s annual report for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, most of the categories stayed flat relative to the proportion of advertising dollars spent on them, but hidden inside the calm were a few fast-moving categories.
Search continued to be the most popular buy — bringing in more than $12 billion in revenue and accounting for 46 percent of all sales, down slightly from 47 percent in 2009. As a category it grew only 12 percent, less than the overall growth in spending, which may have Google (s goog) worried. Meanwhile, display-related advertising — including digital video advertising, ad banners/display ads, sponsorships and rich media –- totaled nearly $10 billion this year, an increase of 24 percent over 2009. The category now accounts for more than 38 percent of all revenue, up from 35 percent in 2009. Much of that year over year growth is likely because of money getting spent again after the recession and perhaps an increase in video ads.
But the largest growth came from sponsorships, which includes advertorials, site takeovers and other forms of sponsored content, which experienced the largest growth in 2010, surging 88 percent since last year. Sure, it was coming from a smaller base (up from $383 to $718 million), but the growth is still worth noting. The category represents about 3 percent of total media buys, up from 2 percent last year.
For the first time, The IAB also included a new mobile ad revenue category. Revenue for mobile ads was estimated between $550 and $650 million.