Mobile Ad Spend to Top $100 Billion Worldwide in 2016

Until recently, advertisers were reluctant to put much money into the mobile category, concerned about technological hurdles and the difficulties of measuring audiences. That hesitation is fading. The global mobile advertising market will hit two significant milestones in 2016, surpassing $100 billion in spending. By 2018, mobile advertising will overtake desktop and account for 50.2 per cent of all internet advertising.

Mobile Internet Ad Spending Worldwide, 2013-2019

The $101.37 billion to be spent on ads served to mobile phones and tablets worldwide next year represents a nearly 430% increase from 2013. Between 2016 and 2019, the last year in our forecast period, mobile ad spending will nearly double, hitting $195.55 billion to account for 70.1% of digital ad spend as well as over one-quarter of total media ad spending globally. Mobile is growing faster than all other digital advertising formats in the US, as advertisers begin allocating dollars to catch the eyes of a growing class of “mobile-first” users.

Not surprisingly, growth in mobile ad spending is being driven by consumer adoption of mobile devices. Next year, there will be more than 2 billion smartphone users worldwide, over one-quarter of whom will live in China alone. Especially there and in other emerging and developing markets, many consumers are accessing the internet mobile-first and mobile-only, so leading affiliates allocate their digital expenditure to mobile accordingly. It is also a common niche for new affiliates to try to get into. Many people see it as the easy, low-hanging fruit.

The number of tablet users worldwide, while growing more slowly than the smartphone audience, is still expected to eclipse 1 billion in 2015. The proliferation of these mobile devices across the world is driving the shift in advertising from the desktop to reach these untethered, always-on consumers.

Mobile Internet Ad Spending Worldwide, by Country, 2013-2018 (millions)
Above: eMarketer’s mobile ad spending chart. Image Credit: eMarketer

The U.S. and China will drive mobile ads in the short term. In 2016, U.S. advertisers are expected to spend $40.2 billion on mobile ads, more than doubling the total from 2014. In China, advertisers will spend $22.1 billion next year, triple the amount spent in 2014. In both countries, mobile will become the majority of all digital advertising next year.

Rounding out the top five countries, the UK, Japan and Germany also will see significant increases in mobile ad spending next year, but in all three markets, a majority of digital ad spending will be on mobile devices in 2017 for the first time.

While the top five countries will maintain their positions throughout our forecast, there are other markets on the move. Next year, Canada and Australia will surpass South Korea to become the sixth- and seventh-largest mobile ad markets globally, respectively.

By 2018, several of the top growth markets will have made significant gains. That year, Brazil will jump three spots from 2015 to become the ninth-largest mobile ad market globally, and Indonesia will make the largest gain, rising from No. 21 this year to No. 12. Notably, however, despite India’s massive mobile audience, the market will continue to lag in mobile ad spending, failing to eclipse $1 billion by 2018.