Mobile: The New Top Media Ad Platform


For the first time, direct mail is forecast to not be the top media advertising platform, starting in 2022.

Overtaking the tried-and-true yet fuzzy ROI solution for businesses big and small: Mobile, newly released data from BIA Advisory Services show.

The conclusion is one of the biggest takeaways in BIA’s U.S. Local Advertising Forecast 2022. According to the advertising data insights firm based outside of Washington, D.C., the overall local U.S. advertising market is expected to reach $161.5 billion.

That reflects 10.1% year-over-year growth, and it is buoyed by overall strong economic tailwinds coming out of 2021. As BIA notes, traditional media revenue will account for $84.6 billion; digital media will be close behind at $76.8 billion.

BIA also anticipates $7.5 billion of the sum will come from political advertising during a strong election season.

“For a long time, we’ve been talking about direct mail as the king of the share of wallet in local ad spending,” said Rick Ducey, managing director of BIA Advisory Services. “This coming year, for the first time, we pass the crown over to mobile, as its momentum drives it to be the biggest overall piece of the spending wallet – and we expect that to continue in the foreseeable future.”
BIA puts mobile spending at 21% of the 2022 forecast and direct mail at 20.7%. That said, the gap between the two will continue to widen.
Overall, digital ad spending will reach $76.8 billion, with Google and Facebook controlling over half of the spending.
Google takes the lion’s share at $26.8 billion, compared with Facebook’s $14.3 billion.
BIA’s Ducey points to four reasons mobile has become the number one advertising medium:
  • (1) COVID’s impact on consumer’s increased time spent with mobile and other digital media making digital the place to find and target consumers
  • (2) digital’s overall momentum in winning more revenue share of media time from traditional media
  • (3) the rise of virtual consumer channels like delivery, curbside pickup and e-commerce in top categories like retail, restaurants, CPG where physical channels like retail store visits decline
  • (4) greater consumer acceptance and use of virtual and e-commerce channels.
Traditional Media
Dr. Mark Fratrik, BIA’s SVP and Chief Economist and a panelist at Forecast 2022, presented by Radio Ink and Radio + Television Business Report, comments that the U.S. Local Advertising forecast also points to a rise in local radio advertising revenue in 2022. It is expected to generate $12.7 billion — split between over-the-air ($11.0 billion) and digital ($1.7 billion). By 2026 radio digital revenues are expected to reach $2.4 billion, while OTA goes up and down with the even political years and ends at $11.7 in 2026.

“Radio isn’t faring as well as local broadcast TV, and it doesn’t get the same bump as TV in political years,” Fratrik said. “But it is getting close to its pre-pandemic levels as people continue to return to work commutes and traveling by car.”

What’s the prognosis for broadcast television?
“I like to refer to our data on local television as our ‘piano key graphs,’ because during even political years it is very apparent that the advertising revenue will rise and then dip the following year.”
As reported in late September, BIA forecasts local television in 2022 will rise to $19.3 billion in OTA advertising, and $1.7 billion in digital; a sign of a strong $21 billion industry that delivers its audience for political campaigners.
U.S. Local Ad Forecast Report
BIA’s U.S. Local Advertising Forecast Report provides a nationwide overview of U.S. spending. BIA updates it throughout the year to reflect current economic situations and to adjust ad spend across top media and business verticals. The forecast covers all media, offering a comprehensive and authoritative view of all “local” advertising spent by national and regional companies, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.