Mobile advertising is going to be big. Really big. Or at least that’s what the analysts are clamouring to tell us, with a succession of bullish forecasts having been released since the dawn of time. And they keep on coming.

The keyphrase in that opening sentence is ‘going to be’. It has always been this way. The forecasts for all things mobile have always been very, erm, enthusiastic. And yet mobile never seems to quite do it.

But here we are in 2008 and there actually some signs that we’re reaching a kind of tipping point. Not by revenue, but by actual potential, because widespread mobile internet usage is the key to attracting the big ad dollars and there are lots handsets in the market that are geared up for internet access.

So, for the purposes of keeping a record, let’s look at how big this beast is going to become…

Analysts’ Forecasts – Mobile Advertising

  • ABI Research: $19 billion by 2011 (global).
  • Gartner: $14.6 billion in 2011 (global).
  • Strategy Analytics: $14.4 billion by 2011 (global).
  • Informa: $11.35 billion by 2011 (global).
  • EJL Wireless Research: $9.5 billion by 2011 (global).
  • eMarketer: $5 billion by 2011 (global).Sterling Market Intelligence: $5.08 billion by 2012 (US + Western Europe).
  • Jupiter: $2.9 billion by 2011 (global).
  • Kelsey Group: search ads to reap $1.4 billion in 2012 (US).
  • Forrester: less than $1 billion by 2012.

And here’s the kicker…

Thomson Financial: Google’s 2009 mobile ad revenue alone will reach $21.31 billion.

Wow! $21bn, next year? Thompson polled a bunch of (possibly crack-fuelled) analysts to reach that giddy estimate.

For the record, Google as an entire business generated around $16bn in 2007. So that $21bn ‘forecast’ is probably 10-100 times more optimistic than it should be. Anybody fancy a bet?

The problem, as I see it, is that Google’s all-conquering text ads are not going to work as well on mobile as they do online. I’ll write a bit more on that in the coming days.

Chris Lake

Published 7 March, 2008 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (1)


Simon Liss

I always laugh when I see these figures. I am the MD of a mobile advertising agency and read recently that '89% of marketing managers were thinking about mobile'. I can tell you that at the coal-face of mobile advertising, there is growing interest but not that much budget yet.

I tend to ignore these figures, especially as trying to estimate the size of a market is 50% percent guesswork (see, I'm not immune from using meaningless percentages myself). A long time ago I used to be a competition and market analyst for the government, so can attest to the fact that even estimating the size of an existing market is very hard and an inexact science to say the least. Trying to gauge the size of a market in the future is even harder. At the end of the day, most of these research outfits put out these figures to 'quote whore' and get themselves some coverage.

That said, I am very optimistic about the mobile ad market - I wouldn't be in it if I wasn't. However, if we are going to see anything near the growth being predicted, the industry needs to focus on providing compelling advertising models that are measurable, standardised and that give real results. A lot of mobile campaigns our there simply don't deliver on ROI, even though they might win awards. Agencies need to focus on the quality of their offerings, and not be blinded by the potential pot of gold. If you want real money spent on mobile advertising, you need to show real results.

Simon Liss - MD -

over 10 years ago

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