Speaking at AdWeek Europe, Facebook’s director for the UK and Ireland, Steve Hatch, said better personalisation offered by mobile meant consumers might actually welcome ads, but that marketers still produced "clumsy" content.
He said: "The rise of personalisation in marketing, and relevance in marketing, it’s mobile devices that are really enabling that.
"It can be clumsy because if we are measuring devices, we are not seeing the full picture by a long way. But if we measure aggregated groups of people, we can create campaigns that are a bit more personalised."
He added: "We’re just beginning to understand the physics of that. I don’t think collectively as an industry we have nailed the chemistry."
There are a number of reasons why marketing on mobile still looks fragmented.
One is that it is difficult to attribute purchases, with tracking tech such as beacons still in the early stages. Another is that marketers simply weren’t ready for the speed of mobile adoption. Finally there’s the question of where to spend the money – building apps, advertising inside apps or mobile web? iOS or Android?
To put the growth of mobile into text, the format now accounts for 20% of all digital ad spend, according to the IAB. That in turn has boosted spend on video and programmatic, with the latter set to account for 75% of display spend by 2017.
Guy Phillipson, CEO of IAB UK, predicted: "The battle is going to be won on smartphones, it’ll be a mobile advertising economy.
"Not only will we have data and video, but also location and weather [data], which will inform advertising to make it more relevant to consumers and useful."
But Mark Howe, Google’s MD for agencies in the UK and Europe, agreed advertisers in 2015 still hadn’t caught up.
He said: "When I first joined Google, many advertisers and agencies were behind the game in search. In mobile, advertisers have been slow to catch up with the consumer.
"Advertisers are still locked in a display world – whether that’s [TV] or desktop."