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Smartphones Drive Increased Time Spent with Digital Media for UK Adults

Mobile advertising is also on the up

April 27, 2016 | Media Buying

The amount of time UK adults spend consuming digital content continues to rise with consumers spending an extra 25 minutes a day on digital devices in 2016 compared to last year, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast. This means that in 2016, UK adults are expected to spend 9 hours and 47 minutes consuming media compared with 9 hours and 26 minutes last year—a 3.7% rise.

Average Time Spent per Day with Major Media by UK Adults, 2012-2018 (hrs:mins)

In 2016, digital media consumption will pass a milestone, accounting for just over half (50.07%) of total media consumption in the UK for the first time. Mobile use, particularly smartphone use, is behind much of this growth. Almost two-thirds (62.3%) of UK consumers will use smartphones in 2016, and this is reflected in eMarketer’s mobile time spent estimates. Overall mobile media consumption will reach 2 hours and 40 minutes this year, up from 2 hours and 18 minutes in 2015.

Smartphone time will see the biggest gain this year, of 18.3%, which will drive the overall digital growth rate of 8.9%. That digital’s growth is less than smartphone growth is a symptom of desktop/laptop time seeing very low growth—just 2.1% in 2016. Traditional media, meanwhile, will continue to see falling rates of engagement. While time spent with traditional TV and radio will see only slight declines of around 1%, time spent with print media will see a second year of a decline in excess of 4%.

Growth of Average Time Spent per Day with Major Media by UK Adults, 2012-2018 (% change)

Although the amount of time that consumers are spending with mobile is rising fast in the UK, the proportion of ad spend heading to mobile is growing even faster. Indeed, another milestone will be passed this year: For the first time, mobile ad spending will account for a greater proportion of total ad spending (28.8%) than it does time spent with media (27.2%). By 2018, the gap between the two measures will be even greater, with mobile accounting for 40.1% of ad spending and 31.0% of media time.

Share of Average Time Spent per Day with Select Media by UK Adults vs. UK Ad Spending Share, 2016-2018 (% of total)

“The ad spend balance is clearly tipping toward mobile in the UK, which isn’t all that surprising given the rate at which consumers are shifting their media time to this environment,” said Bill Fisher, eMarketer’s senior UK analyst. “However, advertising on mobile is hard, and there are multiple facets to any mobile strategy, which is perhaps why the speed at which ad spend is flooding into mobile is even outpacing the rate at which UK consumers are moving their time there.”

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