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Mobile Becomes an Essential Channel in the UK

Targeting is a mobile strength, measurement is a weakness

In the UK, mobile advertising has evolved from a niche marketing medium—one that was difficult to navigate and accurately measure—to something brands can have greater confidence in. While mobile remains less straightforward than more established media, marketers’ use of the channel is rising fast. According to a new eMarketer report, “UK Mobile Ad Trends: Mobile Matures, Yet Growing Pains Persist,” UK mobile ad spending is expected to almost quadruple to £3.58 billion ($5.68 billion) by 2017.

Real-time bidding (RTB) platforms and better targeting and retargeting technologies are giving UK brands and media agencies greater confidence that targeted audiences are seeing their mobile ads. However, unlike online campaigns, which benefit from the use of cookies to track consumer behavior, there are no parallel systems available to track all smartphone or tablet ad data, but better targeting is going much of the way to offset mobile’s missing metrics.

While some brands equivocate about mobile, media agencies in the UK are increasingly confident of their mobile advertising capabilities and are making mobile an essential part of marketing campaigns.

According to eMarketer’s April 2013 forecast, mobile will represent almost one-quarter (22.4%) of the UK’s total ad spend in 2017, approaching £3.6 billion ($5.71 billion) in value. Moreover, growth of mobile ad spending will drive up overall ad spend for digital to 49.7% of total UK ad spending by the end of the forecast period.

Paid search will remain the biggest segment of UK mobile ad spending until 2016, but other forms of advertising will increase, particularly banner ads and video, throughout the period, eMarketer estimates.

The good news for brands and media buyers in the UK is that mobile users in 2013 reported being broadly receptive to mobile ads.

Ad platform InMobi’s “Mobile Media Consumption Research Q2 2012” report, published in August 2012, stated that mobile advertising influenced purchasing decisions for 48% of UK consumers surveyed.

According to the study, 41% of UK mobile internet users said mobile advertising had introduced them to “something new,” with the same proportion reporting it had helped them “find something nearby.” Thirty-six percent said mobile advertising had saved them time or money.

Context is a critical advantage for mobile and may help play a role in the audience’s receptivity to ads. Better ways to serve and target ads through the likes of RTB platforms mean that marketers can catch UK consumers at more opportune moments to move them on to buy or engage.

Improved standards and metrics will further boost mobile’s attractiveness for UK brands. But while the mobile market remains fragmented, agencies see hope for greater standardization of metrics and formats over the coming years.


The full report, “UK Mobile Ad Trends: Mobile Matures, Yet Growing Pains Persist,” also answers these key questions:

  • What is driving UK mobile ad spending?
  • What are brands looking for with mobile campaigns?
  • How is the UK mobile advertising market changing?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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