The overall spend on social advertising is on track to reach $9.8 billion by 2016, says a new forecast from media research firm BIA/Kelsey.

$3.8 billion was spent on social advertising in 2011, which indicates overall growth in this space of some 250 percent over the next five years.

BIA/Kelsey expects $4.8 billion in all social advertising in 2012, and the rise to $9.8 billion by 2016 represents a 21 percent compound annual growth rate.

“Social advertising’s local business penetration will steadily increase as SMBs’ understanding of social media deepens, and as the networks continually improve the ease of onboarding and campaign management,” said Jed Williams, an analyst at BIA/Kelsey.

The predominant social ad format continues to be display, spending on which is tipped to increase from $3.6 billion last year to $9.2 billion in 2016.

Of course, the bulk of this spend is likely to be made on Facebook (despite a few interim flutters ahead of their Friday IPO), although Twitter has made great strides with their Promoted Products suite, notably in the United Kingdom.

(Source: BAI/Kelsey. Chart image via Shutterstock.)