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.