In a joint study, the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence and IAB Europe, the industry bodies, and IHS Screen Digest, the research firm, reported that revenues through this channel hit $5.3bn in 2011.
Asia Pacific supplied $1.4bn of this total, bettering North America with $1.2bn and Europe on $991m. Latin America registered a more modest $135m, measured against $124m for the Middle East.
Search delivered 62% of returns, or $2.4bn, more than doubling the 28% share held by display, which logged $1.1bn. Messaging took 10% of ad sales, equating to $385m.
The gap between search and display expenditure was especially large in Asia Pacific, where the first of these formats claimed $1.4bn, versus $491m for the latter.
In Europe, these figures stood at $900m and $367m respectively. This difference, however, shrank somewhat in North America, with search attracting $811m and display generating $572m.
The study was based on a harmonisation of spending data from the various IABs around the world, and Alain Heureux, president and CEO of IAB Europe, argued that more initiatives of this kind would be required in future.
"Hyper-personal and always-on, mobile has a tremendous potential as an advertising medium.," he said. "We are recognising the need for accurate and comprehensive data to support and provide evidence for its future growth."
Dick Costolo, CEO of microblog service Twitter, recently suggested that the company was yielding considerable benefits from its fledging mobile advertising platform.
"We launched first on the web and only started to run on mobile a few months ago," he said. "It's already been the case a couple weeks ago that mobile ad revenue in a day was greater than non mobile. Mobile revenue is already doing delightfully well."
Facebook, the social network, also revealed 500m people a month log on through their mobile phones, but warned the increasing uptake of this activity challenged its current monetisation model.
Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff