UK digital ad spend surpasses £3bn in first half of 2013

Digital ad spend in the UK reached a record six-month high of £3.04 billion – or £66 per person online – in the first half of 2013, according to new figures released today (7 October).

The latest Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) Digital Adspend report, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers with UKOM-approved comScore consumer data, showed that digital advertising spend was up 17.5% on the same period in 2012.

Fuelled by a significant increase in smartphone ownership, mobile advertising grew by 127% to £429.2 million, compared to £188.1 million in the first half of last year. Mobile now accounts for 14.1% of all digital advertising spend, almost double of the figure reported 12 months ago.

As 4G networks continue their wider rollout, meanwhile, mobile video advertising grew sharply – up 1,260% from £1.7 million in the first half of 2012 to £23 million in the first half of 2013.

Tim Elkington, director of research & strategy at the IAB, said: "Nothing illustrates the internet as an entertainment platform better than the fact that over one in five minutes online is accounted for by entertainment, and that advertisers spent almost 1,300% more on mobile video than a year ago.

"With smartphone penetration crossing the two-thirds landmark and the successful roll out of 4G, 2013 could be the year when advertising spend on mobile crosses the £1 billion threshold."

One example of a retailer investing heavily in its digital advertising at present is fashion specialist Gap, which recently launched its Back to Blue marketing campaign in the US.

By using Twitter to help build anticipation and engagement in the build-up to the new campaign, Gap showed it understands how to reach today's mobile-savvy consumer, according to the IAB UK.

"Being able to execute a campaign across screens is particularly important in reaching today's consumer and it's especially important for retail brands that need to maintain top of mind awareness in a very cluttered landscape," Kistin Brewe, director of marketing & communications at IAB UK, told Essential Retail recently.