Looking back on past predictions for mobile advertising spend, the recurring trend is that the predictions are usually undervalued. This is due to the fact that a good portion of the market did not realize the influence the mobile channel would have. For example, in January, 2012 eMarketer predicted US Mobile Ad spend to be $2.61 Billion in 2012, while the actual spend was $4.36B—a massive 67 percent increase over the original estimate.
eMarketer also had to re-adjust their 2013 Mobile Ad spend estimates a mere four months after the December 2013 report due to unexpected growth in Facebook's share in net revenue, which nearly tripled to 18 percent. The final mobile ad expenditure for 2013 grew to $18 Billion, which was nearly double the original prediction. For 2014, eMarketer predicts Facebook's market share will continue to grow to reach 21.7 percent, with revenues of $6.82 billion. To continue my point on undervalued estimates—in 2012, eMarketer predicted Facebook's mobile net revenues would barely reach $1 Billion in 2014. I think it's fair to say that this prediction was slightly off.
And if we need more evidence on the continued growth of the mobile advertising market, look no further than Gartner's 2017 expenditure prediction of $41.9 billion.
Therefore, the unexpected yet glaring growth of the mobile advertising market is something that advertisers, publishers and ad networks alike cannot ignore. But to leverage this opportunity and to contribute to the maturation of this market, we must understand what is driving this rapid ascension and what formats and strategies will define the future of the mobile channel.
Since the birth of mobile advertising, search has been leading the growth of the market, with Google conquering 49 percent of mobile ad revenue in 2013. As noted above, Facebook has begun to capitalize on the mobile ad market and has built a strategy that resonates well with users, thus allowing them to capture a piece of Google's pie. eMarketer estimates that Facebook will control 21.7 percent of the mobile internet revenue share worldwide in 2014, causing Google's projected share to drop to 46.8 percent. This domination between Google and Facebook demonstrates the continued boost for search/map ad types and native ad experiences respectively.