By comparison, the mobile ads industry saw only $1.6 billion in 2010.
Of course, Gartner is quick to point out in its report this week that we likely haven’t seen anything yet with regard to where mobile ad sales are heading. Gartner projects they will top $20 billion annually by the end of 2015.
The industry’s growth will be led by the surging popularity of mobile search and smartphone applications along with mobile video and audio ads.
“As the adoption of smartphones and media tablets extends to more consumers, the audience for mobile advertising will increase and become easier to segment and target, driving the growth of mobile advertising spend for brands and advertisers,” said Andrew Frank, research vice president at Gartner.
Gartner projects that mobile ad spend among companies will grow from 0.5% this year to better than 4% within the next three years. Companies in North America and Europe are expected to lead the way on ballooning mobile ad budgets.
“In 2011, we are finally seeing some important drivers fall into place, so that we can expect the market to more than double year over year in the coming two years,” adds Frank. “This doesn’t mean, by any stretch, that the experience delivered by mobile advertising will reach its optimum point in that time frame. We expect that targeting and contextualization, especially in social sites and applications, will carry on improving throughout the forecast period and beyond.”