Is mobile the best channel for digital ad spend?

The answer to that question could be ‘yes’, as mobile spend accounts for half of digital ad spend growth, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau’s digital adspend report conducted by PwC – but this shouldn’t be at the expense of using other channels.

Mindi Chahal

Digital spend crossed the £5bn mark in 2012 and mobile advertising grew like-for-like by 148 per cent to £526mn in 2012 from just over £203mn in 2011. The actual increase of £322.7 million in mobile ad spend over 2011 represents over half (53 per cent) of the £607.3mn increase in total digital ad spend.

Mobile now accounts for 9.7 per cent of all digital advertising spend compared to 1.1 per cent in 2009.

However, brands shouldn’t put all their digital eggs in the mobile basket and keep other channels in mind by considering when, where and how people are viewing mobile advertising and when this spend could be maximised elsewhere.

This growth in mobile ad spend could also mean a wider scope to use mobiles in market research as marketers begin experimenting with their advertising. Running surveys or polls via mobile devices about those adverts should prove the best technique in understanding their effectiveness and worth.

This insight continues to be important as deep cuts to ad budgets continue in Europe yielding an annual decrease of 4.2 per cent in spend in 2012 compared to 2011, according to Nielsen’s quarterly Global AdView Pulse report, giving the channel choice added weight for marketers having to justify spend.

Take into account the digital futures study by Intersperience Research which compares how under 18s use digital technology compared to 18 to 24-year-olds. The study reveals that today’s under-18s are connecting with family and friends more than 50 times each day via social networking sites, instant chat and text – alongside email, phone and face-to-face interactions.

The study also found that under-18s are 23 per cent more likely than those older to use multiple devices and divide their attention between many internet tasks. Over 55 per cent say they can concentrate on what they are doing on one device while still being aware of what is happening on other gadgets.

For this group, as an example, pouring spend into mobile advertising would not reach as many under 18s as a brand might hope but looking at when the group is making connections through digital technology, on what device and why would arm them with insight to spend on digital wisely. Brands need to consider what the target consumer is doing in terms of digital usage rather than just opting for mobile.

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