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Full Steam Ahead for UK Mobile Marketing

Karin von Abrams
Senior Analyst

September 28, 2010

Smartphone adoption and web use

The number of smartphone owners in the EU-5 (UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy) grew 41% between 2009 and 2010, to 60.8 million subscribers, according to a June 2010 report from comScore.

About 15 million of those users were in the UK, where smartphone ownership leaped 70% between 2009 and 2010, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB UK) reported. Further, the IAB calculated that mobile access accounted for about a quarter of time spent online by UK web users in mid-2010.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed healthy gains in mobile web usage in 2010. Overall, 31% of UK web users ages 16 and older polled by ONS said they went online via mobile. Men were more likely to access the internet wirelessly, however; 37% of males said they used their mobile phone to go online, compared to 25% of females.

UK Wireless Internet Users, by Access Device and Gender, 2010 (% of respondents in each group)

Google and Facebook remain the most popular mobile websites among UK users, according to comScore’s MobiLens.

Advertising on mobile

At the end of 2009, annual ad spending on mobile phones in the UK amounted to just 1% of the sum spent on all online ads aimed at PC users, comScore found. Similarly, the average ad revenue generated by a mobile web user was barely 3% of that generated by someone using a non-mobile platform to go online.

Average Ad Revenue Generated by UK Internet and Mobile Internet Users, 2009

But mobile spending is set for meteoric growth. The IAB UK has forecast that overall spending on mobile ads will jump from £38 million ($53 million) in 2009 to £86 million ($120 million) by the end of 2011.

Mobile is also starting to come into its own as a response channel for people who view ads. A recent “Mobile Consumer Briefing” from the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and Lightspeed Research reported on consumers’ attitudes to advertising with mobile response options in the UK, France and Germany. UK consumers in all age groups showed high levels of awareness that print media, cinema, radio, outdoor and in-store advertising typically offered mobile response mechanisms.

The July 2010 study found that 31% of UK consumers would be more likely to respond to ads in any medium if they could do so via mobile. Texting a keyword to a short code was the preferred response method. But visiting a mobile site or calling a phone number were also popular options.


In April 2010, 19% of UK consumers were already participating in mobile commerce—significantly more than in France (9%) or Germany (13%), according to MMA and Lightspeed. Buying via mobile was especially popular among 18- to 34-year-olds; 29% of UK consumers in this age group had carried out mobile transactions. UK residents also expressed greater interest in future mobile purchases than residents of Germany or France.

Data from eBay, released in July 2010, supports the view that UK mobile users are in the vanguard of European m-commerce. The site—which claims to have racked up £64 million ($90 million) in sales through its mobile app since 2009—reported that UK users bought more items with the app in a single month than those in France purchased in the whole of 2009.

The average transaction value remains quite low, according to figures from Bango, a mobile payment technology provider, cited by New Media Age magazine. More than three-quarters (79%) of transactions in early 2010 were valued at £5 ($7) or less, and 22% represented purchases of less than £2 ($2.80). Only 9% of all mobile transactions were worth £10 ($14) or more, Bango calculated.

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Check out today’s other article, “Email Marketers On Board with Best Practices.”


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