Video and Mobile Are One Happy Couple in the UK

Digital advertising executives used to make the perennially hopeful proclamation that “next year will be the year of mobile.” In the UK, not only has that year already come to pass, but mobile advertising momentum is now so strong that every year for the foreseeable future looks to be dominated by it, according to a new eMarketer report, “UK Mobile Ad Spending 2014: On Course to Dent Desktop and Topple TV as Leading Channel.”

UK Mobile Ad Spending Growth, by Format, 2013-2018 (% change)

UK mobile advertising’s fastest growth will come not from display advertising’s traditional static formats, but from ads placed in videos.

Despite pulling just £69.4 million ($108.4 million) in 2013, UK video ad spending more than quadrupled as brand advertisers poured money into the format, eMarketer estimates. While gains in all mobile ad categories will slow up from these kinds of spikes as the medium matures, video will continue to be mobile’s fastest-growing single stream in the UK, rising 220.3% this year before moderating to 27.1% growth in 2018. At this rate, video will represent 18.0% of all UK mobile advertising by the end of the forecast period, smashing through the billion-pound mark.

Unlike on desktop, mobile video is a particularly appealing channel to UK buyers because, just like with television, viewers must typically devote their entire attention to the main content on the screen. Likewise, linear video is familiar both as content and as an advertising construct to everyone in this value chain. Creatives know how to make it, buyers know how to secure it, publishers know how to sell it and consumers—even if they often chafe at pre-rolls—have inherited the rules of this game from years spent watching linear TV. In fact, UK mobile phone owners surveyed in November 2013 by PricewaterhouseCoopers said video was their second most preferred mobile ad format, behind only banners.

UK Mobile Ad Impression Share, by Device, Q2 2014 (% of total)

But the context of this consumption will matter. While smartphones have been eating into desktop’s leading share of UK video views, tablet devices have fast been gaining shareInMobi, one of the world’s largest independent mobile ad networks, found that 39.3% of the mobile ad impressions it served in the UK during Q2 2014 were from tablet and connected devices, up 14.4% from a year earlier, with iPads responsible for the largest share of impressions by any mobile device. Since tablets are more commonly used at home than on the go, this means the mobile video advertising opportunity is becoming more of a customers-on-the-couch situation—and with that a more TV-like experience.