According to BIA/Kelsey, U.S. social media ad revenues added up to a cool $4.6 billion in 2012. But that’s nothing compared to where we’re going. Their newly published forecast has us hitting the $9.2 billion mark by 2016.
Google makes $9.2 billion before breakfast but social media has had a harder time collecting ad dollars so these numbers are very encouraging. It would seem to indicate that we still believe in the power of social media in spite of all the evidence that shows it doesn’t work.
BIA/Kelsey’s numbers include YouTube, which I don’t generally think of as a social network but they do rake in the bucks with their display units.
Social-mobile is another grown area. Following in the footsteps of local it’s expected to go from $500 million in 2012 to $1.5 billion in 2016. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this grow even faster now that more social sites are experimenting with ad placement in their mobile apps. Add to that the increase in mobile app usage and we should be hitting the SoMo ad revenue sweet spot pretty soon.
What the numbers don’t reveal is where the dollars are coming from. It’s unlikely that ad budgets are going to rise that much in the next few years. More likely the dollars are coming out of the print budget or from the overall online budget – exchanging banner ads on websites for promoted Tweets and display ads on Facebook.
Maybe with $9 billion in revenue, social media sites will actually start turning a profit.