Google Driving Mobile Ad Market Past Industry Expectations and Projections

The U.S. mobile advertising market is on fire, growing faster than even the most optimistic of industry analysts had projected in recent months.

Fueled in large part by Google’s mobile search advertising business, the industry reached new heights in 2011 and 2012 is already shaping up to put 2011 to shame.

Aided greatly by the surge in smartphone ownership and the ubiquitous dominance of mobile ad networks – with Google’s AdMob, Apple’s iAd, and Millennial Media chief among them – new estimates from eMarketer place mobile advertising’s growth off the charts.

According to the latest projections, mobile advertising spending in the US approached $1.45 billion last year, which represents an 89% increase year-over-year.

US mobile ad spending for 2012 is expected to reach $2.61 billion.

“Right now there are many researchers out there looking at nearly the same empirical data about the mobile marketplace and drawing completely disparate conclusions,” says Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst. “In order to form the most complete picture possible about the mobile ad market, we think it’s essential to evaluate multiple information sources-rather than a single dataset-especially as the market remains immature.”

Elkin, however, notes that Google remains the wildcard when it comes to estimating the mobile ad industry’s future growth. If Google grows faster than expected, so too will the industry.

eMarketer believes Google’s mobile ad revenues for 2011 represented about 51.7% of the entire industry’s revenue.