Digital ad spend hits record £6bn: Tablets drive new growth

Apr 9, 2014 | Mobile, Online advertising, Online video, Search engine marketing, Social media, UK

Over one in four British consumers now owns a tablet, as advertisers spent a record £6.3 billion in 2013 to reach people surfing the internet across an increasing array of devices, according to the latest Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) Digital Adspend report, conducted by PwC. Over one third (36%) of people accessing the internet […]

Over one in four British consumers now owns a tablet, as advertisers spent a record £6.3 billion in 2013 to reach people surfing the internet across an increasing array of devices, according to the latest Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) Digital Adspend report, conducted by PwC.

Over one third (36%) of people accessing the internet are now doing so via tablets, according to UKOM/comScore¹, as tablet ownership grew 63% year-on-year from 11.0 million to 17.9 million Britons in February 2014². Due to the proliferation of new devices, two-thirds of people online now access the internet using a PC/laptop and one other device – such as a smartphone or tablet¹.
Almost six in 10 (57%) tablet owners online say it’s their “go-to” device to surf the internet at home³. Two-thirds of owners (66%) say it’s easier to go online using a tablet. Almost two-thirds (65%) like to use them while watching TV.
Banking/finance is the area of people’s lives that would be most affected without the internet or mobile phone – cited by almost half (48%) of Britons online – followed by keeping up with current affairs (37%) and relationships with friends and family (35%).
IAB/PwC data shows that advertising on the internet and mobile phones overall increased, like-for-like*, by 15.2% or £853 million to £6.30 billion in 2013 – up from £5.45 billion in 2012.
Among media owners who submitted revenue figures to the IAB/PwC, tablet-dedicated advertising has grown over 400% to reach at least £34.4^ million in 2013; up from £6.8 million in 2012.
Mobile ad spend nearly doubles and crosses the £1bn barrier
With smartphones now accounting for over three quarters (76%)² of handsets, advertisers are continuing to invest more in mobile advertising. It grew, like-for-like, by 93% to £1.03 billion in 2013 from £529 million in 2012. Mobile now accounts for 16% of all digital advertising spend – £1 in every £6 – compared to 10% in 2012.
Social media advertising spend on mobile increased to £221.8 million in 2013. Across digital overall, social media advertising grew 71% to £588.4 million. Consequently, mobile now accounts for over one third (35%) of total digital social media advertising.
“Digital advertising continues to grow at impressive rates simply because marketers are becoming more responsive and savvy to the increasing ways people consume content across different devices,” says Tim Elkington, Director of Research & Strategy at the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau.
“However, there’s still a lot of work for the industry to do when it comes to tablet advertising. Spend on ads designed specifically for tablets is growing fast but it’s still a very small part of the pie – despite the increase in tablet ownership, and the crucial role they play in people’s internet use at home. The tablet has moved from the offices of early adopters to the nation’s living rooms and advertisers should be following suit.”
Video becoming a bigger star
Video advertising grew by 62% year-on-year to £324.9 million. Video now accounts for 18% of all online and mobile display advertising.
Consumer goods increases dominance of display advertising
Driven by mobile display and video, the consumer goods sector continued its dominance as the biggest spender on digital display advertising, overall – accounting for 18% in 2013 compared to 16% in 2012.
Digital advertising formats
Boosted by video and social media, display advertising across the internet and mobile grew above the overall (15%) digital rate at 22% on a like-for-like basis to £1.86 billion.
With mobile display growing by 180% on a like-for-like basis to £432.4 million in 2013, mobile now accounts for 23% of total digital display advertising.
Paid-for search marketing increased 14% on a like-for-like basis to £3.49 billion.
Classifieds including recruitment, property and automotive listings, grew 9% like-for-like to £886.5 million – accounting for 14% of digital ad spend.
“Mobile’s huge rise is down to advertisers taking advantage of key developments in the way people use their mobile devices – particularly social media platforms,” says Dan Bunyan, Manager at PwC.
“Mobile is now more of a story-telling tool for advertisers rather than just an information device. Almost half of mobile ad spend is accounted for by TVs biggest advertiser categories – consumer goods and entertainment brands – which is testament to how important mobile has become for brands.”
Jason Froggett, founder of incentivised video advertising start-up, Adpoints, commented on the news: “A quarter of the British population now owns a tablet. Add that statistic to the quantum leaps being made in mobile internet connectivity and you can start to see why advertisers are investing in mobile; it’s helping them to get their content into the hands of thousands of consumers at any given time. But can advertisers be absolutely sure that their mobile ads are being seen?
Take video as an example. It’s now common for people to play around on their iPad whilst watching TV, but with the ability to skip ads and their attention split, advertisers are losing out to inattention. The contract between brands and consumers is fundamentally changing; 15 years ago people used to enjoy advertising, but now it’s becoming increasingly seen as an intrusion and ad avoidance tactics have rocketed.“
“Brands need to look for new ways of reaching people via mobile advertising, in a way that is both relevant and advantageous to the consumer. Only this will make sure that people aren’t bombarded with messages when they don’t want them. Otherwise, consumers‘ avoidance will only worsen as advertising vigilantes find new tactics to avoid ads detracting from the true value of mobile advertising.”
Overcoming ‘ad blindness’
Owen Sagness, General Manager of Microsoft Advertising & Online in the UK, added: “Digital adspend continued its rapid growth in 2013, rising 15 per cent to £6.3bn in comparison with 2012. The results of the IAB and PwC’s latest survey confirm a few trends that the industry has seen first-hand over the past year, including the relentless growth of the tablet market, advertisers dedicating increasingly large budgets to mobile spend, and video becoming more popular than ever before.
“Such huge growth in mobile and tablet spend in particular adds further weight to the need for engaging content on all screens. More traditional advertisers should take note – cross-screen strategies will enable them to engage consumers on multiple devices, producing unique experiences that truly push the boundaries of innovation.
“The industry needs to listen carefully to consumer demands and learn from others’ successes and failures. For the creatives, media agencies and publishers, it’s up to us to work together to battle ‘ad blindness’, assessing and understanding consumers’ changing online behaviour in order to remain relevant, forcing ourselves to keep challenging what’s possible in digital advertising.”

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