April 29, 2015

State of the News Media 2015

Digital News — Revenue: Fact Sheet

Last updated May 2015

In 2014, spending on digital advertising as a whole continued to grow at roughly the same rate as in 2013. One segment of that – mobile advertising spending – showed sharp increases, though the pace has not kept up with the triple-digit percentage growth rates from 2011-2013. The main benefactors of digital ad spending continue to be social media and technology companies. Google still holds about a third of total digital (38%) and mobile (37%) ad revenue, but Facebook saw stronger year-over-year growth than the search giant. Facebook’s strength lies in display advertising, the category of digital ads that news companies rely on most: The company is now the top recipient of both total display and mobile display revenue.

(Read more on Digital News Audience.)

Total Digital Advertising

In 2014, $50.7 billion was spent on digital ads, including mobile, up 18% from $43.1 billion in 2013. That is on par with the 17% increase a year earlier.

Digital advertising has also grown as a percentage of total media advertising across all platforms: 28% in 2014, up from 25% in 2013.

Digital Ad Revenue Continues to Grow

Year Other Digital
2011 126 32
2012 128 37
2013 128 43
2014 129 51

Source: eMarketer. “US Ad Spending Forecast.” October 2012, December 2013, December 2014. “Mobile Advertising Goes Mainstream,” October 2011.

Pew Research Center

Mobile Advertising

In 2014, $19 billion was spent on mobile advertising, up 78% from the $10.7 billion spent in 2013. Even that huge increase is far less than increases of the past two years, which saw growth rates of more than 170%.1 Mobile ad spending now accounts for 37% of all digital ad spending, up from 25% last year.

Mobile Ad Revenue Grows Rapidly in Past Two Years

Year Other Mobile
2010 25 1
2011 31 1
2012 32 4
2013 32 11
2014 32 19

Source: eMarketer. “US Ad Spending Forecast.” October 2012, December 2013, December 2014. Note: Numbers may not add up to total due to rounding.

Pew Research Center

Total Digital Display Advertising

Within digital advertising, display ads such as banners or video are where most news organizations make the majority of their digital revenue. (Search ads, which appear next to keyword searches, are the domain of search companies such as Google.) Display ad revenue overall, including mobile display, grew 27% in 2014 compared with 22% in the prior year. Total banner display ad revenue grew 12% and continued to bring in the greatest share of display revenue: 49% in 2014, though that share has slipped from 63% four years prior.

Banner Ads Still Dominate Display, But Video Ads Catching Up

Year Banner Ads Video Ads Rich Media Sponsorship
2008 4.6 0.6 1.9 0.6
2009 5.06 1.02 1.51 0.37
2010 6.23 1.42 1.54 0.72
2011 7.55 2 1.65 1.12
2012 8.56 2.89 1.79 1.54
2013 9.72 3.82 2.64 1.5
2014 10.9 5.96 3.73 1.77

Source: eMarketer. “US Ad Spending Forecast.” October 2012, December 2013, December 2014. “Mobile Advertising Goes Mainstream,” October 2011. “Mobile Advertising and Marketing: Past the Tipping Point,” October 2010.

Pew Research Center

Video display ad spending is growing at a faster rate than any other display category – up 56% in 2014 – and now accounts for more than a quarter (27%) of total display ad spending. That is up from 14% ($1.4 billion out of $9.9 billion) in 2010.

Total Digital Ad Revenue by Company

Five companies – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL – still generated 61% of total domestic digital ad revenue in 2014, $30.9 billion out of a total $50.7 billion. However, their combined share has decreased incrementally, about 1 percentage point every year since 2010.

Google still leads the pack, accounting for 38% ($19.3 billion), though this is down from 40% of total digital ad revenue in 2013 ($17.1 billion). Facebook has become a stronger generator of overall digital advertising revenue over the past two years. In 2014, taking nearly 10% of total digital ad revenue, Facebook increased its digital ad revenue 52% to $5.0 billion, which is more than double its $2.2 billion in 2012.

Total Display Ad Revenue by Company

Five companies account for about half ($11.2 billion) of all display ad revenue ($22.2 billion), a share that has remained relatively stable over recent years (in 2013, they accounted for 48% of the total display market).

Facebook – which overtook Google for the top spot in 2013 – continued to outpace the other major companies, generating 24% of all display ad revenue. At 4% of display ad revenue, Twitter surpassed both Amazon and Microsoft and entered the top five companies for display ad revenue for the first time. News publishers fall into the large “other” category, along with ad networks, other social media sites and many other types of Web properties.

Top 5 Companies’ Share of Digital Display Ad Revenue Stays the Same 2013-2014

Mobile Display Ad Revenue by Company

When it comes to mobile display ad revenue, the top five companies – in this case, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pandora and Apple (iAd) – took in nearly two-thirds (64%) of the total in 2014, or $6.4 billion out of $9.6 billion. That brings their share back to 2012 levels after a slight dip in 2013 to 59%.

Facebook continued to lead in mobile display ad revenue, generating more than one-third (37%) of all mobile display ad revenue in 2014. Facebook’s mobile display revenue grew 131% (from $1.5 billion to $3.5 billion) in 2014, though at a slower rate than its 292% growth last year. Twitter also saw steep growth in mobile display revenue in 2014. The third-highest generator of mobile display ad revenue in 2014 (7% of the total), Twitter saw a 111% jump last year (from $0.3 billion to $0.7 billion), though this is also slower than the 178% growth it enjoyed in 2013.

Top 5 Companies Grow Share of Mobile Display Ad Revenue

According to an earlier eMarketer report, on both Facebook and Twitter, the percentage growth of mobile display advertising equaled the percentage decline of another more mature category: desktop display ads.2 Facebook’s share of revenue from mobile ads increased 20 percentage points while its share of revenue from desktop ads fell 20 percentage points, and Twitter’s share of revenue from mobile ads increased 10 percentage points while its share of revenue from desktop ads fell 10 percentage points.

More data

Digital: U.S. Mobile Ad Revenue

Digital: U.S. Advertising by Media

Digital: U.S. Mobile Advertising by Ad Type 

Digital: Top Five Companies in Digital Advertising

Digital: U.S. Display Advertising by Type

Digital: U.S. Display Advertising by Company

Digital: Advertising Growth Rates by Ad Type

  1. In its 2013 report, eMarketer updated its 2012 projections from $2.61 billion to $4.36 billion. In 2014, eMarketer updated its 2013 mobile ad spending from $9.60 billion in its 2013 projections to $10.67 billion in its 2014 report. The 2013-2014 updates were spurred because the first estimate was based on the first two quarters of 2013; after the second half of the year, eMarketer updated its projections because large companies like Google and Facebook posted larger mobile revenue figures than expected.
  2. eMarketer. “US Ad Spending Q4 2014 Complete Forecast.” December 2014.