Most of UK online adspend now comes via smartphones

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

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

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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