“Entertainment, automotive, pharmaceutical and healthcare were the fastest growing vertical sectors for online advertising in the first half of the year, according to a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau” (IAB) reports ClickZ (here). The report (get it here) utilizes data and information reported directly to PwC by companies generating online / mobile advertising revenues, and publicly available corporate data. The following figure shows the online ad formats tracked and how much was spent on each in the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011. Overall online ad spending was $17.0 billion in the first hlaf of 2012 compared to $14.9 billion in the first half of 2011 (a 14% increase).

Search accounted for 48% of the online ad spend and display-related advertising accounted for 33% (Display-related advertising includes Display/Banner Ads, Rich Media, Digital Video, and Sponsorship).

Here’s the data comparing the total online ad spending by major industry category:

Online ad spending by “Pharma & Healthcare” increased by 50% (from 4% of the total to 6% of the total). Keep in mind that not all of this is specifically spending by the Rx drug industry because the category includes “pharmaceutical products, facilities, services, researchers, and biological products. Also comprises establishments providing healthcare and social assistance for individuals as well as personal care, toiletries, and cosmetic products.”

6% of $17.0 billion is $1.02 billion. That could pan out to be more than $2 billion for the entire year — again, not all of that will be spent by the Rx drug industry.

eMarketer has predicted that online ad spending by the health industry in 2012 will be $1.58 billion (see “Bogus Predictions of Pharma Industry Online Ad Spending“), which is significantly different than the IAB guesstimate 0f $2.04 billion based on the data for the first 6 months.

Why the difference? It could be that eMarketer is measuring something different. However, its 2011 number of $1.28 billion is virtually the same as what IAB said the healthcare industry spent online in 2011 (4% of $31.7 billion equals $1.27 billion).

$1.58 billion, $2.04 billion — whatever. Pharma’s share of that ad spend is probably 50% or $0.8 to $1.0 billion. Taking out the 48% attributed to search, we get $0.38 to $0.48 billion spent on other types of online advertising. This compares to about $4 billion pharma spends on all direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising — a number that does not include the online spending of any sort. In other words, online ad spending by pharma is still insignificant compared to offline ad spending.