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A big endorsement today for mobile advertising from eMarketer: their analysts today said they were revising up their forecasts for U.S. mobi…

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photo: Flickr / Tracy O

A big endorsement today for mobile advertising from eMarketer: their analysts today said they were revising up their forecasts for U.S. mobile ad spend to $2.61 billion, from their previous estimates of $1.8 billion. Why the rise? Google’s “exceptional” mobile advertising performance in mobile search advertising, and more reliable market data.

eMarketer were the same analyst house that last year revised up their mobile ad forecasts to over $1 billion — the first time a company had made that proclamation. In the event, those revenues reached $1.45 billion, they said, nearly double what they were in 2010. Their 2012 figure represents a rise of 80 percent on last year.

Yesterday Yahoo’s new CEO Scott Thompson claimed that there wasn’t yet a clear leader in mobile advertising, and that it was still an open field. That may be the case in that there is still a lot of room for growth, but there is actually a company dominating the mobile ad business at the moment: Google (NSDQ: GOOG).

In 2011 eMarketer says that Google had about 51.7 percent of all mobile ad revenues, with sales of $750 million. The second-two biggest platforms were far behind it. Apple’s iAd took in $92.4 million for a 6.4 percent share; while Millennial earned $90.9 million for a 6.3 percent stake.

Google totally dominated the mobile search category — an area where Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Millennial currently do not play — with some 95 percent of all revenues. Google was not shabby in display, either, leading in that category, too — although not as comprehensively, with only 24.8 percent of the market, with Millennial Media and Apple’s iAd very close to each other for second place.

As a sign of how fragmented mobile display advertising remains, “other” was the biggest category of all with 39.6 percent of all sales.

How different mediums will grow. eMarketer predicts that spend in mobile search will double in 2012, with $1.28 billion spent in the medium compared to $652.5 million in 2011. Higher-value display and rich-media ads will see less investment — which could either be a sign that mobile is still working to earn its stripes as a credible medium with big brands, or a tacit belief that these formats simply are not working as effectively as search at the moment.

Display will be worth $861.7 million, a rise of 93.5 percent on 2011; video will be worth $151.5 million, a very respectable rise of 122 percent.

Very usefully for those of us who take forecasts with a grain of salt, eMarketer has also published a kind of leader board for how much different research groups believe mobile ads will bring in the year ahead. eMarketer is coming out at the top end with some of the more bullish predictions.

Mobile marketing and advertising services have also attracted the attention of venture capitalists: it was one of the big draws in a record-breaking year for mobile investment, according to research from the investment bank Rutberg & Co.

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