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UK mobile advertising market grows 32% in 2009 to £37.6m

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Despite a contraction in the advertising sector in 2009, total spend on mobile phone advertising in 2009 rocketed by 32% year on year to a new high of £37.6m, according to second, annual Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) – the trade body for digital marketing – and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study.

While some brands and media owners cut back their investment in mobile advertising, the medium grew at a faster rate than predicted due to its exceptional targeting, immediacy and return on investment.

Every quarter in 2009 showed consistent, strong growth with Q4 delivering a record display advertising spend of £5.5 million – an increase of 28% period on period.

Both paid-for search and display formats performed above expectations. Mobile search grew more than a third year on year – up 41% to a new high of £20.2 million and a market share of 54% (50% in 2008).

Mobile display – which includes banners, text links, tenancies pre- and post-roll and in-game – grew by 24% to £17.4 million and a market share of 46% (50% in 2008). Driving mobile display was expenditure on banners and text links, which were up 26% year on year to £14.6 million (£11.7m in 2008), to a new market share of 39% (41% in 2008).

Tenancies were up 17% year on year to £1.4m (£1.2m in 2008) and a market share of 3.8% (4.3% in 2008).

Pre- and post-roll (around video content), and in-game advertising, spend nearly halved (47%) to £200k (£400k in 2008) and a market share of 0.5% (1.2% in 2008).

Other formats including display advertising within SMS / MMS were up 26% year on year, to £1.2 million (£1m in 2008) and a market share of 3.2% (3.4% in 2008).

For the first time, the 2009 report reveals the top display ad categories. The top five are: Entertainment & Media (61.5%);

Telecoms (14.7%);

Finance (8.1%);

Consumer Goods (3.2%); and

Government, social and political (2.7%).

Jon Mew, head of mobile at the Internet Advertising Bureau, said: “While market conditions saw many advertisers reduce their investment and testing on mobile, these findings paint a positive picture of a compelling new advertising medium. Mobile is an effective, highly targeted and complementary advertising channel. Signs are that 2010 will be important year as confidence and budgets increase.”

Eva Berg-Winters, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said: “A successful year for mobile has been underpinned by mixed performances. There were two distinct approaches from advertisers and publishers. They either cut spend or continued to invest and develop their use of mobile – with a view to come out on top following the downturn.

“Recent investment in mobile has significantly outweighed the budgets cuts. This signals the belief that it is set to become an important medium.”

Key drivers and insights

• Mobile internet usage increased by 21% in 2009 with 18.9m handsets now accessing the mobile internet every month*

• 23% of time spent accessing internet is on a mobile device – average time spent surfing on a mobile is now 32 minutes a day *^

• Smartphone usage is up 70% and growing faster in the UK than Europe*

• Unlimited data plans (unlimited internet access) up 113% in 2009*

• 77% of mobile internet sessions are now for more than five minutes**

• Time spent on social networks now greater on mobiles than a PC – 41 minutes a day spent on Facebook via mobiles and 31 minutes a day via PC*

Sources: *Comscore/GSMA MMM; ^UKOM; **Yahoo! Appetite

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