Earlier this year, eMarketer analysts predicted that online ad spending would reach $31.3 billion. So far, the industry appears to be on track to meet that projection. And some sectors are posting more aggressive gains, compared to 2010, than others.

At the half-year mark in 2011, online advertising expenditures reached $14.9 billion. In comparison, online ad spending at the mid-year point in 2010 was $12.13 billion. Historically, the second half of the year brings a higher rate of online ad spending and this will likely be the case for 2011.

Categories with the largest spending increases so far this year include:

  • Display – digital video 42.1%
  • Display – sponsorship 93%
  • Display – banner ads 24.4%
  • Search – 26.8%

eMarketer analysts note that the increases in sponsorship spending might be due to high-value offers being made by publishers to keep marketers from migrating to other formats such as ad networks or video. In addition, the category which has slowed the most since last year is email, with a 34.2% drop – from $120 million at the mid-year point last year to $79 million this year.

The industry sector with the largest online ad spend, retail, has increased its growth rate for this type of marketing by 41.7% over last year. And the leisure travel industry, which has spent $1.195 billion through mid-year, has come in with the second largest growth rate, 40.8%. Consumer package goods (CPG) and pharma/healthcare marketers are the biggest sectors to show a drop in online ad spending. Analysts attribute these drops to unique situations. For example, the pharma marketers face restrictions imposed by the FDA with respect to online marketing and the CPG industry may be shifting their spending back to TV where they can more easily measure ROI.

Overall, though, the online ad industry forecast is looking stronger than ever.

[Source: Healthy H1 2011 Gains Put US Online Ad Spending… emarketer.com. 30 Sep. 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2011]