Most of UK online adspend now comes via smartphones

Twelve years after iPhone launch, adspend on smartphones has overtaken desktop for the first time.

Digital adspend: smartphone spend reached £6.88bn last year
Digital adspend: smartphone spend reached £6.88bn last year

More than half of the UK’s digital adspend now comes from smartphones, the Internet Advertising Bureau and PwC’s annual research has revealed.

The IAB/PwC Digital Adspend Study shows UK advertisers spent £13.44bn on digital advertising in 2018, a 15% increase year on year.

For the first time, adspend on smartphones (£6.88bn) has overtaken desktop and now accounts for 51% of spend, up from 45% last year, when it reached £5.23bn.

The shift to internet-enabled phones has been dramatic since Apple launched the iPhone in January 2007 and revolutionised a nascent platform for digital media.

As the chart below shows, smartphone adspend was only £38m 10 years ago.

This compares with UKOM audience data from December 2018 that shows people spend two-thirds of their time online on smartphones.

Meanwhile, growth for display advertising is up 22% year on year to £5.25bn. Growth is faster than paid-for search, which is up 14% to £6.66bn. However, digital classified spend has shrunk by 1% to £1.45bn.

Within display advertising, video is by far the biggest in terms of spend and accounts for 44% (£2.31bn), compared with banners (28% or £1.19bn) and native advertising (23% or £1.49bn).

And within the video sub-category of display advertising, outstream has increased its dominance: outstream or social in-feed now accounts for 57% of video spend (up from 52% in 2017), compared with 42% for pre-mid-post roll (down from 46% in 2017).

Jon Mew, chief executive of IAB UK, said: "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 brands."


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