Internet Advertising Statistics – The Rise of Mobile and Ad Blocking

It should come as no surprise that marketers love statistics. We have even found that some of the most popular posts on the Influencer Marketing Hub highlight marketing facts and figures.

Researchers collect a considerable quantity of data about different aspects of marketing on the internet. They use this data to ensure that they know the latest internet usage trends, and marketers have to adapt accordingly.

We wrote the first version of this post in 2018, based on 2017 and 2018 data. However, COVID has completely changed the world of internet advertising (along with virtually every other type of marketing). We have updated the statistics in this post to more recent data. In particular, we highlight the results of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) 2020/21 COVID Impact Report on Advertising and their FY 2019 Internet Ad Revenue Report. We also highlight a few notable facts from the 2020 PageFair Adblock Report.

Summary: Quick Jump Menu

1. Buyers Expect Digital Ad Spend to Increase 6% Over 2020, Compared to a 30% Fall in Traditional Media

IAB has continued to run surveys during the COVID crisis to establish what the effect of COVID has been on US advertising. Respondents were asked to share their expected percentage increase or decrease in ad spending during 2020, compared to their actual expenditure in 2019. IAB took this survey in August 2020.

Based on their spending to date, the respondents expected that their overall ad spend will drop by 8% in 2020. However, there was a significant difference when comparing digital and traditional media channels. The respondents expect that spending on traditional media will fall 30% this year, with much of this transferred to digital media, which has a 6% increase overall.

2. Consumers Spent 10% More Time With Digital in March-July 2020


This second statistic is a clear explanation for the first finding. Advertisers have accelerated their shift from traditional media to digital media because that is where people have moved. Consumers now spend 10% more time with digital, month by month, than they did in 2019. This was particularly evident in March to May 2020, when lockdowns were most common worldwide, in the first wave of COVID.

However, this shift is not merely because of COVID. It was happening anyway. The time spent with digital has risen nearly every month since 2018.

3. Only Digital Channels Can Expect Net Gains in FY2020 Ad Spend


The IAB COVID Impact Report makes grim reading for traditional media. The respondents to that survey gave their expectations on the expected change in ad spend in 2020, compared to 2019.

On the positive side, they expected increases in the following types of digital ad spending: CTV +19%, Digital Video +18%, Digital Display +15%, Social Media +25%, and Paid Search +26%. 

Things are not totally rosy for digital media, however, with falls expected in Digital Audio -5%, Podcasts -8%, and Digital OOH -43%. With OOH advertising meaning Out of Home advertising, it should come as no surprise that brands have reduced their spending in this category. With lockdowns of varying length and more people working from home, there is less reason to advertise on bus shelters, digital billboards, or at airports, subways, or train stations.

Results for traditional advertising are far worse, however. Spending on direct mail advertising in 2020 is predicted to show a fall of 17%, linear TV -24%, terrestrial radio -31%, print -33%, and traditional OOH -46%.

4. Internet Advertising Revenues Increased 15.9% Over 2019 and Continue to Grow in 2020

According to IAB research, internet advertising revenues in the United States totaled $124.6 billion for the 2019 calendar year. This was $17.1 billion (15.9%) greater than the 2018 results. This was predominantly due to increases in mobile digital advertising.

IAB surveys the market every quarter. Their most recent quarterly result is for Q1 2020 (before the full impact of COVID). This showed US digital advertising revenues in Q1 to be 31.4 billion, the highest first-quarter revenue ever recorded. This shows a 12% growth over the same period last year.

However, this was the first year we saw a shift towards slower growth than in prior years and represented the lowest growth rate since 2012. However, the COVID data collated in IAB's other report suggest that internet advertising is definitely holding its own against traditional advertising trends.

5. Mobile Now Makes up More Nearly 70% of Internet Advertising

A sizeable growth in mobile advertising has fueled the overall increase in internet advertising revenue. Since 2016, mobile has generated more revenue than non-mobile. Mobile now makes $86.7 billion (69.58%) of the total $124.6 million advertising revenue.

In comparison mobile made up 65% of internet advertising revenue in 2018, 57% in 2017, 51% in 2016, 35% in 2015, 25% in 2014, and just 19% in 2013. 

6. 74% Increase in Mobile Advertising Over the Last 9 Years

In 2010, Mobile Advertising Revenue in the US only totaled $0.6 billion (when non-mobile revenue was $30.1 billion). In the nine years since then, mobile revenue has skyrocketed to $25.4 billion. This gives a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 73.8%, compared to a CAGR of non-mobile of 4.5%

7. 53% of Internet Advertising Revenue was Made in the Second Half Year in 2019

In every year of the last decade, second half-year internet advertising revenues have been greater than the corresponding first half-year revenues. Is this the Christmas effect?

2019 was no different from any other year. 53% of the FY19 revenues were generated in the second half-year, compared to just 47% in the first half-year. This made 2019 similar to any other year of the decade. It will be interesting to see if the effect is more pronounced in 2020, with more lockdowns in the first half of the year than the second.

8. The Top 10 Leading Ad-Selling Companies Account for 77% of Total Revenues

Online advertising revenues may be increasing, but they are still highly concentrated, with the ten leading companies accounting for 77% of total revenues in FY 2019. The next 15 companies account for 7% of revenues, with all remaining companies counting for 16% of internet advertising revenues.

These percentages have changed slightly over the last decade, with revenues of the Top 10 fluctuating between 69% and 75% for most of that time.

9. Total Search Revenues Increased 12.9% in 2019, but Desktop Search Revenues Stayed Static

The IAB Report separates ads by format - Search, Banner, Video, and Other. Search is the largest category for both Desktop and Mobile ads. Total search revenue was $54.7 billion in 2019, up 12.9% year on year. Search's share of the total digital advertising revenue was slightly down (43.9% versus 2018's 45.1%). 

Desktop Search generated $18.3 billion in revenue in FY 2019, up a mere 0.4% from FY 2018. Overall, the desktop search share of internet advertising revenue decreased from 48.4% to 48.1%.

Mobile Search generated $36.4 billion in revenue in FY 2019, up a healthy 20.4% from FY 2018. Overall mobile search share of internet advertising revenue, however, decreased from 43.3% to 42.0%.

10. Banner-Related Digital Advertising Accounts for 31% of the Total Spend

IAB considers Banner Advertising to be a combination of banners/rich media ($36.9 billion) and sponsorship ($1.2 billion). The statistic previously was called Display-Related Digital Advertising. However, it included Video that has performed so well in recent times that IAB has split Video off into its own category. The total of desktop and mobile banner advertising was $38.1 billion in FY 2019, a 13.8% increase on 2018's $33.5 billion. 

Desktop Banner Advertising dropped from a 22.5% share to 20.3% in 2019.

The Banner share on mobile decreased from 35.8% to 35.1%; however, revenue increased by 21.5% to $30.4 billion.

11. Digital Video Revenues Increased 33.5% Over 2019

Digital video showed clear signs of growth in 2019. The format earned $21.7 billion for FY 2019, up by $5.5 billion or 33.5% from FY 2018. Video made up 17% of all internet advertising in 2019.

This trend is even visible on desktop, where video makes up 18.5% of the overall desktop share (compared to 16.1% in 2018).

The growth in mobile video advertising is particularly impressive. Video grew almost 44% from 2018 (totaling $14.7 billion) and now makes up 17.0% of mobile market share.

12. Internet Audio Advertising Revenue Reached $2.7 Billion

In 2019, internet audio advertising revenue reached $2.7 billion. This represents a 21.2% increase over FY 2018's revenue of $2.3 billion. Audio on mobile devices saw 25.3% growth, while the rise in digital audio advertising revenue on desktop devices was smaller (although still healthy) 7.6% year on year growth.

13. Social Media Revenue Grew 23% Over 2019

Social media internet advertising revenues totaled $35.6 billion in 2019, a $6.7 billion gain (23%) from the prior year. Social continues its full-year growth trends with increases reflected in the 43.0% compound annual growth rate of social from 2012 to 2019.

14. 527M People Use Mobile Browsers That Block Ads By Default

PageFair has now produced an AdBlock report six times since 2015. They began publishing research to shine a light on the rapid growth of AdBlocking and its users' motivations, with the hope of catalyzing a change towards more sustainable advertising experiences.

They observe in their 2020 report that the battleground of the AdBlock wars has shifted to mobile. A large portion of these people is starting with browsers that block ads by default.

One of the report's key findings is that at the end of 2019, 527M people were using mobile browsers that block ads by default, a 64% increase from the last edition of the report.

The surge in AdBlocking on the mobile web is primarily driven by the continued success of UC Browser in Asia, as well as by Opera Mini enabling AdBlocking by default in 2019. Google still takes measures to deter ad blocking, so their competitors use AdBlocking as a point of difference.

15. Desktop AdBlock Usage Slowly Declines as Users Switch To Mobile

Desktop Adblock usage is slowly declining as users switch to mobile, yet there were still 236 million monthly active users of AdBlocking software in Q4 2019.

Desktop users of ad blockers peaked in Q1 2018 and declined after that, as people changed their device usage.

16. More Than Twice as Many People Block Ads on Mobile Web vs. Desktop

The growth in mobile AdBlocker usage is clearly driven by mobile web browsers that block ads by default, especially in Asia. UC Browser is the most popular AdBlock browser. Pagefair estimates it has 405M users worldwide. Opera had 123M mobile users in Dec 2019. Opera Mini now enables AdBlocking by default for new installations. 

Also, the Brave Adblock browser is growing fast in the US and Europe, with 10.4M users in Dec 2019 and 89% YoY growth.

Overall, PageFair estimates mobile usage of AdBlockers in Q1 2019 to be 527 million, double desktop's 236 million.

Share this Infographic On Your Site

Over 30.000 marketing professionals rely on us for their news. Shouldn’t you?

Subscribe to the world’s #1 influencer marketing newsletter, delivered bi-weekly on a Thursday.