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Search budgets have increased by 19% over last year, Facebook spend has doubled in the same period, and the money for Facebook campaigns isn't cannibalising other online budgets.

Last week, eMarketer issued a report saying that online advertising in the US is set to overtake print for the first time in 2012. In the UK, online spend has grown consistently (the IAB reported a whopping 13.5% growth in the first half of 2011).

Our own analysis of 2011 search and social media ad spend makes interesting reading. Search advertising bucks the spending trend every quarter: search spend has increased by 19% over the same period last year in the UK (slightly lower in the US at 14%). The majority of this, of course, is on Google (around 80%).

But the really interesting thing I think is the growth in social media advertising. Although brands are still spending a relatively low proportion of their online advertising budgets on social media (and for social media, read Facebook), at around 2.7% of total online spend, the budgets are growing significantly.

We expect Facebook advertising to make up 5% of total online spend in 2012. And what’s more, the money for Facebook advertising doesn’t appear to be cannibalising other online budgets. Brands are finding separate budgets to fund Facebook campaigns.

Brands are still very focused on Facebook fan acquisition. The bigger brands expect to increase the number of engaged fans by around 9% each month, and to double their fan bases in 2012.

But there is a real shift towards meaningful engagement with those fans, rather than simply collecting numbers: improving engagement strategies and creating campaigns that keep fans coming back to and interacting with the brand’s Facebook page.

Mobile search is also on the up. Around half of us in the UK have a smartphone, which means better mobile internet access, which means more mobile search. (Interesting fact: around 40% of new smartphones sold are iPhones, according to a Comtech report.)

As a result, mobile search now accounts for between 7% and 8% of search spend, an increase of 2.7 times since December 2010. Around 50% of this spend is specifically geared towards tablets. We expect to see this increase to between 16% and 22% of search spend by the end of 2012.

I think ‘this is the year of mobile’ has been a stock phrase for about the last seven years, but if brands are prepared to spend between a fifth and a quarter of their search budgets on it, that’s a pretty good indication that the UK really is going mobile in 2012.

So, in summary:

Search: budgets up by 19%, mostly spent on Google.

Facebook: new budgets being found for the right campaigns, nearly doubling in spend in 2012.

Mobile: more than doubling in 2012, and it’s all about search.

Jonathan Beeston

Published 30 January, 2012 by Jonathan Beeston

Jonathan Beeston is director, new product innovation, EMEA at Adobe Media and Advertising solutions,and  a contributor to Econsultancy. He can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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