IAB: Search Was 50% Of US Digital Ad Spend In 2014, Desktop Still Bigger Than Mobile


The figures are in, and once again, search marketing is a powerhouse. According to the IAB, search made up 50% of all digital ad spend last year in the United States.

Over on Marketing Land, we have the full-breakdown of the figures: Digital Ad Spend Hits New $49.5 Billion High In 2014; Mobile & Social See Greatest Growth. While channels like social and mobile saw more growth, search remained the biggest spend overall.

I’m still working up some figures on the search growth story. It’s complicated, because the IAB doesn’t release an overall “search” figure. Instead, it releases a desktop search figure that it calls “search,” which for 2014 amounted to $19 billion in spend, or 38% over the overall ad spend. In its ad formats chart, from the IAB’s full report, you can see how mobile search is pulled out of “search” and tucked inside the mobile slice:

iab 2014 spend

In that chart above, the IAB also oddly subtracts another percent from “search,” saying that search is at 37% overall versus the 38% it gives it in its press release with detailed figures.

To really understand what’s going on with search, you have to do additional math to calculate what the spend of mobile search is, then add that to desktop search to get an overall figure. I’ve done that, as fully explained in the aforementioned Marketing Land article. Here’s the result:

If you add up each category, you’ll get more than 100% in total, because some categories include spend from other categories. But the percentage for each shows you how much each category amounts to in spend versus the overall spend. For search overall, it’s 50% of overall digital ad spend, or $24.6 billion. Desktop search is 38% or $19 billion. Mobile search is 11% or $5.6 billion.

Again, for more details, see our story on Marketing Land.

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