Research: Smartphones account for 51% of UK digital ad spend

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According to IAB UK, the trade association for digital advertising, UK advertisers spent £13.44 billion on digital advertising in 2018.

The total ad spend figure, as reported in the latest IAB UK and PwC Digital Adspend study, is a 15 per cent year-on-year increase and demonstrates continued confidence in the power of digital advertising.

For the first time ever, ad spend on smartphones has exceeded desktop, accounting for 51 per cent of the total spend, up from 45 per cent in 2017. This is a year-on-year increase of £1.65 billion.

These latest figures show that advertising spend now better reflects consumer behaviour, with recent UKOM audience data showing that people spend two thirds of their online time on smartphone.

Beyond mobile, an additional driver of growth continues to be video, which accounts for 44 per cent of the total display market. For the second year running, outstream (which includes social in-feed video) has exceeded pre-roll video, accounting for 57 per cent of all video advertising.

The results are bolstered by new YouGov research commissioned by IAB UK showing that nearly two thirds of marketing decision makers agree that online video assets should be made bespoke for the platform or device they are shown on. Furthermore, the research confirms that more than half of marketers use online advertising for longer-term brand building, not just short term sales activation.

In addition, the figures show that companies fully certified for the IAB UK Gold Standard outperformed the total display market, seeing a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in ad spend revenue versus 22 per cent overall.

Commenting on the results, Tim Elkington, Chief Digital Officer, IAB UK, said “Seeing mobile now account for over half of all digital ad spend is a significant milestone. In a decade of reporting these figures separately, we’ve seen spend rise from £38 million in 2009 to a staggering £6.88bn in 2018.”

Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK, continued: “Alongside increased investment from leading advertisers, digital advertising remains an accessible route to market for SMEs. We continue to see evidence of online advertising being used for brand-building, especially by the growing market of direct to consumer (DTC) brands.”


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