Digital ad revenue surpasses TV for the first time, says IAB

IAB: Digital ad revenue surpasses TV for the first time

Step aside, television — the internet has taken over.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) has tracked digital ad spend since 2004, and for the first time ever, digital spend has surpassed that of TV ad spend in the United States. In their semi-annual report released on Thursday, the IAB reported full year internet advertising revenues of $72.5 billion, compared to traditional TV’s $71.3 billion, as reported by eMarketer.

Digital ad revenue is up 21.8% from 2015, and mobile played a big role in that increase. Mobile is now responsible for 36.6% of total digital ad revenues.

IAB/PwC Internet Ad Revenue Report, FY 2016
($ billions). Source: IAB/PwC Internet Ad Revenue Report, FY 2016

The report’s quarterly growth trends chart also confirms that revenues are on the rise, with continued seasonal bumps in Q4 and dips in Q1 of each year. These can be attributed to increases in ad spend during the holiday season, and then lulls as marketing managers take time to re-adjust their strategy for the new year.

IAB/PwC Internet Ad Revenue Report, FY 2016
Source: IAB/PwC Internet Ad Revenue Report, FY 2016

Digital Video Revenue

Digital video revenue saw an especially prominent increase, rising 53% to $9.1 billion in 2016, versus 2015’s $5.9 billion. Mobile was a huge driving force in digital video, rising 145% from 2015.

IAB/PwC Internet Ad Revenue Report, FY 2016
Source: IAB/PwC Internet Ad Revenue Report, FY 2016

“Mobile fueled the internet economy in 2016,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB. “This increasing commitment is a reflection of brands’ ongoing marketing shift from ‘mobilefirst’ to ‘mobile-only’ in order to keep pace with today’s on-the-go consumers.”

Social media advertising revenue also saw a substantial jump, totaling $16.3 billion in 2016, up 49% from the previous year.

You can read the IAB’s full 2016 internet advertising revenue report, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, here.

  • Givrally

    This is the first time but not the last. I’ve said it many times : Internet is slowly rising while the TV is just becoming more and more boring. Can you start a TV channel in your room ? No. Can you start a YT channel in your room ? Yes.

  • I am very curious how adblockers are going to affect all of this. The sites are going to code around the adblockers, the adblockers are going to code around the sites, and, eventually, the sites (i.e., Youtube), and, of course, the advertisers themselves, are going to lobby governments to make adblockers illegal. We probably shouldn’t fool ourselves: I’m sure they’re already doing this.

    I also anticipate that, within the next, say, 25 years or so (to give myself some leeway), there’s going to be drastic shifts in advertising. Currently, advertisers are afraid to advertise on extremely popular internet content. They are afraid to advertise on content that people WANT to consume. You can’t blame them, in many cases. But I anticipate that, over time, advertisers are going to become more and more lenient on what they advertise on (we must also consider the ages of the advertisers themselves, the culture in which THEY “grew up” in, etc. etc. As time goes by, the cultures in which the advertisers grew up in will be different than they are today).

    We’ve already seen how the WAY that advertisers advertised has changed DRASTICALLY from, to make the example easy, 70 years ago. The way people on television (and radio) TALKED changed over time. The “television voice” of the early television days changed. WHAT was talked about changed, HOW it was said, etc. Values changed, culture changed, and media and ADVERTISING changed. This will always be the case, and I definitely see this happening in the future of the digital age.

    The only thing that has stifled this is governmental regulatory agencies. When they fully get ahold of the internet like they have radio and television, we’re ALL screwed. From the government’s perspective, they made a HUGE mistake on not regulating the internet the way they did television and radio (in America, for example). From a non-governmental point of view, this, of course, is fantastic.

    We should all take the internet for granted, because that’s the point of anything being “good”. But just HOW good the internet is currently is hard to state. Everybody KNOWS how much better the internet is than old media on basically EVERY front. Just imagine the equipment you would need to, say, do a comedy show for the public in the 50s, or deliver “news”. Just something as basic as written communication is infinitely easier electronically than with paper. The change is remarkable. The internet is the car is the printing press is the wheel is fire. It has completely changed everything FOREVER, for the better (unless we have another “Dark Age” by some catastrophic means). This is, by far, the best time in HISTORY to be alive (as “the present”, at any given time, almost ALWAYS is), and the only thing, in MY opinion, which sobers this perspective is the constant threat of nuclear destruction. What a fucking swinging balance THAT is.