Google garnered 59 percent of a U.S. mobile advertising market worth $877 million in 2010, thanks largely to the search ad business the company claimed was operating at a $1 billion run-rate this year.
Market researcher IDC said Apple was the runner-up at 8.4 percent of the U.S. ad spend, which rose 138 percent from the $368 million spent last year. Millennial Media collected 6.8 percent of revenue share for the year.
IDC analyst Karsten Weide added search and display ad revenues to calculate total market share. Weide, who factored in Google's $1 billion search ad run-rate, said Google's 2010 gross revenue will be $519 million. Apple will tally $73.5 million while Millennial will bank $60 million.
Spend on search ads led spend on display ads 55.6 percent to 44.4 percent, with Google all but putting the game out of reach from rivals Yahoo and Microsoft by collecting 91.4 percent of total search ad revenue.
But it's the display market that has gotten interesting and hyper-competitive. Google and Apple are virtually tied in display ads, with Google edging Apple at 19 percent to 18.8 percent for the year. Millennial ranks third with 15.4 percent, with Yahoo having 10 percent.
Apple's market share plot is spectacular considering it only launched its iAd platform July 1. Clearly, many brand advertisers had little trouble ponying up the $1 million entrance fee for iAd to get prominent placement on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Google meanwhile made its display bank with AdSense for Mobile and display ads served by its AdMob team, which the company acquired in May.
It will be interesting to watch the evolving battle between Google and Apple in display ads in 2011. Both companies will add more brands that will want to serve interactive ads to keep consumers engaged longer.
Still, Weide expects Google to eclipse Apple in display ad sales because Android handsets are now outselling Apple iOS-based products.
While Apple shipped 14 million iPads in the fourth quarter, Android is seeing 300,000 devices activated each day, good for 9 million devices switched on per month.
"We do expect Google to grow its display sales faster than Apple in 2011 because as Android devices outsell iOS devices, they will generate more traffic, ad inventory and, eventually, sales than Apple through iOS devices," Weide wrote.
"Taking into account search and display ads, Google will likely grow its total 2010 mobile online ad market share of 59 percent even further."
Regardless, Google rivals Apple, Millennial, Yahoo and Microsoft may not lack for ad dollar opportunities.
Weide estimates the U.S. mobile ad market will top almost $2 billion in 2011, or 120 percent more than the 2010 total.