Digital Advertising by the Numbers

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In 2013, for the first time ever, marketers spent more money advertising on the Internet than on broadcast television. Online advertising revenue climbed a staggering 17% to a record $42.8 billion in the U.S., where as broadcast television revenue was at just $40.1 billion.

Of course, this shift in spending was bound to tip towards the Internet sooner rather than later considering how rapidly digital advertising has evolved. Yes, we still listen to the radio, read magazines, and watch television, but we do almost all of those things with a PC, tablet, or smartphone by our side. And sometimes all three. This means advertisers have access to, but also need to adapt to, new platforms and ad formats in order to connect with their target audience.

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The good news for marketers is that despite the surge in online advertising revenue, we’re actually not watching less television. In fact, in December of 2013, the average American watched 185 hours of television, up six hours from December 2012. (Don’t even try to do the math on that; it will depress you.) We’re just watching television with our iPhones and iPads in hand. So even when we’re disconnecting - we're connecting, which help explains why mobile is the only time spent on media that’s growing. Marketers can now reach us in several places almost simultaneously.

This shift is actually a good thing for marketers as online advertising can provide a far more personalized experience for individuals since in many cases, users are telling you very specifically what they want to see. As AdWeek points out, digital video mirrors cable TV in many ways. Advertisers used to be scared of cable TV because they thought it was too niche, but instead of viewing “niche” as “limited,” marketers should view it as “targeted.” And this is exactly what digital video can do, only a much larger scale.

The truth is though: marketers don’t have the luxury of being nervous about spending money on digital advertising because it is the future. Our handheld devices are the first things we look at when we wake up and they’re the last things we see before we go to bed. As Sherrill Mane, senior vice president of research at IAB said, “You can no longer sit on the sidelines. You have to put your money into digital media to build your brand. If you are not doing so, lots of the money you are spending is being wasted.”