Smartphone accounts for more than half of digital ad spend


Latest IAB UK PwC Adspend study reveals total UK Digital Advertising Market worth £13.44bn in 2018

24 April 2019, London: IAB UK, the trade association for digital advertising, has today announced the results of the latest IAB UK and PwC Digital Adspend study, which reveals UK advertisers spent £13.44 billion on digital advertising in 2018.

The total ad spend figure is a 15 percent year-on-year increase and demonstrates continued confidence in the power of digital advertising.

For the first time ever, ad spend on smartphones has exceeded desktop accounting for 51 percent of the total spend, up from 45 percent in 2017. This is a year-on-year increase of £1.65 billion.

These latest figures show that advertising spend now better reflects consumer behaviour, with recent UKOM audience data showing that people spend two thirds of their online time on smartphone.

Beyond mobile, an additional driver of growth continues to be video, which accounts for 44 percent of the total display market. For the second year running, outstream (which includes social in-feed video) has exceeded pre-roll video, accounting for 57 percent of all video advertising.

The results are bolstered by new YouGov research commissioned by IAB UK showing that nearly two thirds of marketing decision makers agree that online video assets should be made bespoke for the platform or device they are shown on. Furthermore, the research confirms that more than half of marketers use online advertising for longer-term brand building, not just short term sales activation.

In addition, the figures show that companies fully certified for the IAB UK Gold Standard outperformed the total display market, seeing a 30 percent year-on-year increase in ad spend revenue versus 22 percent overall.

Commenting on the results, Tim Elkington, Chief Digital Officer, IAB UK, said: “Seeing mobile now account for over half of all digital ad spend is a significant milestone. In a decade of reporting these figures separately, we’ve seen spend rise from £38m in 2009 to a staggering £6.88bn in 2018.”

Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK, continued, “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 (DTC) brands.”

The full IAB UK PwC Adspend study includes further splits of the data, including the growth in native formats, trends across devices for social media and search spend, and the drop in the spend on intrusive formats. The report can be downloaded by members for free from the IAB UK website.

See the full study

Written by



Related content

Euro symbols

AdEx: Digital ad spend in Europe grows by 30% in 2021

Learn more
Jon Mew

Behind the numbers: why digital ad spend growth tells a bigger story

Learn more

AA/WARC: UK ad spend set to surpass £29 billion

Learn more

2010 Full Year Digital Adspend Report

Learn more

Rediscover the joy of digital advertising

Champion connections instead of clicks. Capture audiences' imaginations, not just their attention. Boldly move to your own beat instead of letting tech set the pace. It’s time to rediscover the joy of digital.