In a survey of 300 marketers conducted by research firm Circle Research with brands including Tesco, Barclays and Subway, the IAB found that 50% of marketers are buying mobile programmatically, with that figure expected to rise to 80% by the end of the year. However, of those that said they advertise on mobile, 44% said they have “little or no knowledge” of programmatic advertising on mobile.

The IAB’s mobile manager, Mike Reynolds, says the figures point to a “clear disconnect” and that strengthening knowledge must be a clear focus for marketing teams this year.


“Brands need to take a step back and first educate their teams about the benefits of buying mobile programmatically before getting under the bonnet and looking at the technical aspects,” he told Marketing Week.

“There are plenty of opportunities to learn. I’d encourage brands to seek these out so that they feel more confident and better equipped when talking to their agencies, suppliers and peers about mobile programmatic.”

The challenges of advertising on mobile

Across the mobile landscape, just 29% of respondents felt they had “excellent” understanding of mobile advertising, while 22 described their level of understanding as “poor”. This despite the fact that mobile advertising is an important part of overall strategy for 79% of those that answered the survey.

The main challenge remains a lack of budget, cited by one in three, likely held back by difficulties in tracking and restraints on creativity. Location-based advertising is seen as the most exciting area for development, mentioned by 66% of respondents, while 52% think wearables are an “excellent opportunity” for the industry.

That has led to a big uptick in the proportion of brands planning to advertise on wearables, with 56% of respondents saying they will start advertising on the devices over the next 12 months.

Marketing Week is running the next in its series of programmatic events in March. Focusing on bringing together creativity and programmatic it will feature speakers form brands including the Telegraph Media Group and Topman. To find out more about the event visit our dedicated event page here.