Digital media’s grip on the advertising is growing stronger as new figures show mobile has almost doubled its advertising market share in the last 12 months.

New figures from the IAB and PwC show that digital adspend grew £435 million to £3.04 billion in the first half of 2013, a 17.5 percent increase year on year, the equivalent to about £66 per UK online user during that period.

Mobile is now 14.1 percent of all UK advertising spend, meaning mobile has doubled its share of the online ad market since the first half of 2012 (7.2 percent), reflecting the fact that more than two thirds of Britons own a smartphone.

The IAB also says that UK consumers spend 43 hours a month online, and cites UKCOM/Comscore stats showing that in a typical consumer’s online hour, 13 minutes is spent on “entertainment” sites and apps while nearly three minutes is spent on “news”. 

So why are publishers still struggling to make serious money from internet activities and where is the money going?

Searching for growth

Search remains the leading category with 59 percent, or £1.8 billion, of the total…

IAB PwC H1 2013 adspend report - digital revenue mix


But display is the fastest growing, with a 23 percent like-for-like growth on last year, to a total of £738 million. This is reflected in the excitement (or trepidation) around RTB and the automation of display ads, which brings greater speed and efficiency to the market.IAB PwC H1 2013 adspend report - spend by category

Of that £738 million display total, 44 percent is spent on old-fashioned banner ads, with new sexier categories such as digital video and banners on social media services still much smaller in comparison:IAB PwC H1 2013 adspend report - display revenue by type


But that’s not to say that advertising via social media isn’t significant, reaching £250 million in the first half of 2013 in the UK alone:

IAB PwC H1 2013 adspend report - social media advertising

Mobile futures

— Mobile advertising grew 127 percent in H113 to £429.2 million (during the same period last year it was £188 million)

— For a trend-within-a-trend, look to mobile video, which has gone from £1.7 million in H1 last year to £23 million in H1 2013, an increase of nearly 1,300 percent. 

— UK advertisers spent £10.5 million on tablet-specific advertising in the first half of 2013 (this is probably an underestimate due to the size of the IAB’s sample).

And crucially, here’s the mobile mix in terms of advertising type – with search, still, clearly leading the way. Although below that, check out the 195 percent growth in mobile display:

IAB PwC H1 2013 adspend report - mobile advertising mix

IAB PwC H1 2013 adspend report - mobile advertising growth by type

Consumer economy boosts mobile opportunity

So what sectors are buying mobile advertising? Short answer: consumer goods. They took up 26.8 percent of mobile display, taking over from entertainment and media for the first time. The list of the most-booked categories on mobile says a lot about where the entire ad ecosystem is right now:

IAB PwC H1 2013 adspend report - spend by category

Anna Bartz, Senior Manager at PwC, says:

The fact that consumer goods – such as food, clothing and jewellery – account for over one quarter of mobile display advertising shows how important brands regard smartphones as key to consumer buying behaviour