SYDNEY: Online advertising expenditure topped A$3bn for the first time in Australia during the last financial year, representing an expansion of 21% on an annual basis, a study has shown.

Year on year growth reached 30% for search ads and directories, taking this channel to a value of A$1.6bn. This pace of acceleration hit 15% when discussing general display, yielding A$853m, with classifieds up by a more modest 11% to A$643m.

The Online Advertising Expenditure Report, produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the services firm, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia, the trade body, also included new estimates for Google display, Facebook display, video and mobile advertising, which were backdated to late 2010.

It also noted that total mobile adspend for the fiscal year to 30 June 2012 came in at $47.5m, following growth of 212%. Some 60.3% of these returns were attributable to general display and 39.7% to search.

By device, 67.7% of revenues went to smartphones and 32.3% to tablets, according to the analysis.

"The growth in mobile advertising over the past six quarters shows that for a minor investment relative to TV, print and other media spends, marketers can add mobile audience reach and executions to their online search and display campaigns," said Paul Fisher, the CEO of IAB Australia.

Looking ahead, the IAB Australia predicted that internet advertising would surpass that for free TV in the calendar year of 2013, and outstrip print in the 2013/14 financial year.

"The growth is strong and consistent with forecasts and trends in other major markets such as the US," Maria Martin, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said.

Data sourced from IAB Australia; additional content by Warc staff