eMarketer: Online Sales per User Continue to Climb in North America

Advertisers continue to invest greater amounts targeting US consumers vs. their counterparts in Canada

MAY 10, 2012 – The world economy may still be recovering, but consumers in both the US and Canada are expected to spend record amounts on B2C ecommerce in 2012.

In an April 2012 report, global media investment management firm GroupM estimated that this year the average B2C ecommerce spending per user in both countries in North America will break the $1,000 threshold.

Since 2009, the average amount US internet users spent annually shopping online has increased roughly $100 per year. This year, GroupM projects the average US internet user will spend $1,042 on ecommerce, with those in Canada trailing slightly, at $1,009 on average.

Average B2C Ecommerce Spending per User in North America, 2006-2012

Even using a broad definition of B2C ecommerce, GroupM�s 2012 projection for average spending per user in the US is lower than eMarketer�s, which focuses more narrowly on average online retail sales per US internet user ages 14 and up ($1,042 vs. $1,497). Though the estimates differed in their average values, their projected year-over-year growth were within one-tenth of a percentage point of one another. eMarketer projects 10.5% growth from 2011 to 2012 in average US retail ecommerce sales per internet user; GroupM forecasts 10.4% growth in average B2C ecommerce spending this year.

The average B2C ecommerce spending per internet user in the US will continue to climb through 2015, but projections from eMarketer suggest companies should not expect such steep increases beyond 2012.

eMarketer predicts US B2C ecommerce sales will total $343.4 billion by the end of this year, up 13.8% from 2011. Beyond 2012, annual growth rates will decline by about 1 percentage point each year as the US online population nears full penetration and the US B2C ecommerce market reaches maturity.

US B2C Ecommerce Sales, 2010-2016 (billions and % change)

Though, according to GroupM, US users will spend just slightly more than their counterparts in Canada this year on ecommerce (a difference of $33), the firm expects advertisers to spend an average of $60 more per user to target US consumers in 2012. Compared to 2011, the US average ad spending per user is expected to rise 7.4% to $174; Canada will see a 4.6% increase in ad spending per user to $114.

Average Ad Revenues per User in North America, 2006-2012

By 2015, eMarketer anticipates the gap in online ad spending per internet user in the two countries will narrow, with average online ad spending per US internet user expected to reach $192 vs. $149 per average internet user in Canada. eMarketer estimates US online ad spending per user accounted for only 26.9% of total media ad spending per user in 2011, but that portion will increase to 35% by 2015 in the US. In Canada, it will follow a similar grow trajectory from 2011 through 2015: 27.6% to 36.6%.

Such trends signify the health of the ecommerce industry, yet they also suggest a a growing recognition of the influence that online advertising has on offline purchases. And in the next few years, as the use of multichannel attribution analysis becomes more common in the digital ad industry, percentages may shift as marketers acquire more hard data.

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