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Mobile Advertising Trends and Technology Adoption by the Numbers

Mobile usage is through the roof. Mobile ad spending continues to soar. Mobile gaming is off the charts. Mcommerce (or mobile commerce) keeps gobbling up marketing share.

Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are becoming ever more embedded into digital infrastructure, with consumers turning to them for everything from news and communication to entertainment and shopping, and more. Indeed, as these handheld electronics grow increasingly ubiquitous around the globe, brands are embracing mobile advertising as a critical component of their marketing strategy. And now, with many of the mobile behaviors that consumers adopted toward the beginning of the pandemic looking like they are here to stay, marketers have an array of new possibilities to effectively and efficiently meet the needs, habits, and surroundings of their audience—and to build more trust-based, personalized relationships at scale.

So, just how much time are consumers spending on mobile? What is mobile’s share of digital ad spending? Where are mobile ad dollars going? And what technology threatens mobile’s dominance? Find answers to all those questions, and more, right here.

Mobile Penetration is Climbing and Climbing

Mobile devices are quickly becoming an inextricable extension of the modern consumer—and, in turn, a core pillar of relationship marketing. The pandemic fast-tracked mobile proliferation and this trend looks set to continue evolving, as increased adoption of 5G and the constant emergence of advanced mobile technologies will likely provide an additional boost to mobile device usage.

  • The average US adult will spend 4 hours and 36 minutes per day using a mobile device for nonvoice activities in 2023. That equates to 53% of their time spent on digital activities, and 34% of their total time spent with media.
  • The majority of mobile usage comes on smartphones, and daily smartphone time is predicted to reach 3 hours and 26 minutes next year before increasing to 3:31 in 2024.
  • Tablet use appears to have plateaued, having reached its peak in 2020 at 1 hour and 12 minutes per day. Average time spent on tablets is projected to slip to 1:08 in 2023 and then drop again to 1:07 in 2024.
  • The number of US adults using smartphones looks set to grow from 226.2 million in 2022 to 233.3 million by 2024.
  • Gen Z is being raised on mobile: the average Zoomer receives their first smartphone at age 12 (around 7th grade)—five years younger than the average Millennial received theirs.
  • In the second quarter of 2022, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 59% of global website traffic, up from 55.1% over the same period in 2021.
  • The amount of time adults spend accessing the internet through mobile versus desktop will steadily increase over the next two years, with the ratio hitting 70.1% to 29.9% in 2024.
  • 91.1% of adult consumers’ time spent on social networks takes place on mobile devices.
  • 84% of US adults say they frequently engage with second screens while watching television, with 70% of those that do using their smartphone most often.
  • Within both mobile browsers and apps, consumers are spending more time listening to digital audio (like podcasts and music) than doing anything else. By 2024, the average daily time spent with digital audio in the US will be 1 hour and 25 minutes, representing 80.6% of all digital audio time.
  • The average US adult will spend an average of 56 minutes per day watching videos on mobile devices in 2023, a figure expected to grow by an additional one minute in 2024. This trend is driven by people spending more time with OTT and shorter-form video services like YouTube and TikTok.

Mobile Ad Spend Increasing Across the Board

It’s worth remembering that mobile advertising is a relatively new and rapidly evolving phenomenon—marketers are still discovering what’s possible on the medium, and the scope of mobile campaigns widens year after year. That said, mobile is already a tough channel to beat when it comes to the basics of digital advertising—i.e., massive audience reach, precise targeting, and personalization opportunities—and this is reflected by ad spend numbers. When it comes to programmatic, social, native, audio, video, and B2B spending on mobile, all the trend lines point north:

  • US mobile ad spending currently stands at $168.88 billion, accounting for 67.9% of total digital ad spending. Both the dollar amount and the percentage share are expected to grow steadily over the next four years, reaching $247.68 billion and 68.3% respectively in 2026.
  • Mobile programmatic digital display ad spending in the US is projected to rise from $98.42 billion this year to $129.91 billion in 2024.
  • US mobile TikTok ad revenues sit at $5.96 billion, up from $2.10 billion in 2021 (an increase of 184.4%). And that growth isn’t showing signs of slowing, with revenues predicted to push past $11 billion in two years.
  • Mobile display ad revenues on Meta-owned platforms in the US are expected to jump from $54.09 billion in 2022 to $60.94 billion in 2023 to $68.39 billion in 2024. However, Meta’s share of total mobile display ad spending is steadily decreasing year over year.
  • US B2B mobile ad spending has increased 26.6% this year, reaching $6.83 billion. The number is forecast to grow another 21% next year to $8.33 billion and, in the process, overtake non-mobile B2B digital ad spending for the first time.
  • Mobile accounts for a remarkable 96.5% of all US native display ad spending ($84.57 billion), and that number looks set to increase to 97.9% next year.
  • 80% of US digital audio ad spend is generated via mobile, and it’s estimated to stay that way through 2027.
  • US video ad spending on mobile devices is predicted to leap from $48.18 billion this year to $73.14 billion by 2026. The percentage of total video ad spending will likely decrease, however, with connected TV gradually assuming more and more market share.

Mcommerce is Making its Move

After mcommerce momentum picked up steam during the pandemic, signs indicate continued growth in the coming years, as new technologies like augmented reality (AR) and 5G converge with frictionless payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay to help fuel the shift to mobile buying. For retailers, in particular, this presents a great opportunity to double down on building relationships with consumers via mobile media.

A Golden Era of Mobile Gaming is Upon Us

From casual games that require zero set up to fully developed immersive media experiences, mobile gaming today caters to a wide-ranging audience far beyond the stereotypical younger demographics. Indeed, the original generation of console gamers are now well into adulthood (it’s been over 40 years since the Atari was released!) and the share of adults who play digital games will almost certainly continue to rise. Mobile gaming is still fundamentally in its infancy as an entertainment outlet, but there is already big money in the industry—both in terms of investment and ad spend. And with a game and format out there for pretty much every brand (and consumer), it appears ready to explode.

  • More than half (54.2%) of the US population are currently digital gamers. Mobile gaming is by far the largest segment, with 162.9 million people playing games on their smartphones (versus 97.8 million on digital consoles and 94.2 million on either desktop or laptop).
  • The gender divide that exists in other gaming categories is nonexistent in mobile gaming—a massive three-quarters of mobile-only gamers are female.
  • Worldwide ad spend on mobile gaming is projected to increase from $61.6 billion in 2022 to $130.9 billion in 2025.
  • This year, smartphone games account for 45% of global gaming market revenues and mobile gaming as a whole generates more than half of all gaming revenue worldwide.
  • 50% of today’s mobile gamers say they prefer the ad-supported model over pay-to-play games or those based primarily on in-app purchases.
  • Prior to the release of iOS 14.5 in April 2021, Apple led Android in terms of in-app advertising (IAA) revenues. But by June 2021, Android overtook Apple, capturing 10.2% of IAA revenues versus Apple’s 9.7%—a gap that has continued to widen.
  • The average time spent on mobile gaming apps in the US is slowly increasing. Unsurprisingly, it jumped considerably from 2019 (21 minutes/day) to 2020 (25 minutes/day) and has continued to rise in the years since, now standing at 27 minutes/day.

Mobile Competitors Picking Up Steam

It is quite clear that connected TV (CTV) is having a moment, reinvigorating TV and the wider video landscape. Virtual reality (VR), too, is now making its way into the mainstream with improved, more powerful headsets such as the Meta Quest 2 helping to increase adoption. Together, these technologies could bring consumers back to the living room sofa and siphon minutes and dollars away from smartphones and tablets.

  • CTV and mobile currently account for 50.8% and 33.3% shares of daily digital video time, respectively. Over the next two years, this ratio is expected to change to 52.8% and 32.9%—a sign that CTV is absorbing market share.
  • CTV devices including Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and Smart TVs are all projected to gain new users every year from now through 2026. Amazon Fire TV is set to gain the most, moving from 103.8 million to 120.2 million monthly users.
  • The global augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) market reached $28 billion in 2021 and is estimated to rise beyond $250 billion by 2028.
  • The number of US VR users are forecast to grow by 8.6% in 2022 to 66.8 million and a further 6% to 70.8 million in 2023. By 2025, there are projected to be 75.4 million monthly VR users. This is particularly notable as VR is significantly (and transparently!) less multiscreen-friendly than CTV.

Mobile Advertising by the Numbers—Wrapping Up

With consumers spending more and more time absorbing content on their smartphones and tablets, mobile advertising is front and center, and there are ample opportunities for marketers to provide highly personalized touch-point experiences on those devices. The brands that get it right as part of their omnichannel marketing strategies can build deeper, more durable connections with their audiences that pave the way for long-term brand loyalty.

Want to optimize your mobile campaigns but don’t know where to start? Our Media Strategy & Activation team can point you in the right direction.

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