Advertisers spent a record £7.2 billion on digital advertising in 2014, up 14% year on year to create an annual lift of almost £936 million.

The growing adoption of digital devices across the UK was largely responsible for driving advertisers to increase their spend, finds the latest Internet Advertising Bureau UK Digital Adspend report, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mobile advertising grew 63% to £1.62 billion in 2014, accounting for 23% of all digital ad spend and 56% of social media spending, with social platforms such as Facebook generating huge returns from mobile inventory.

“Advertisers are increasing their digital budgets to reach people as they go online through an increasing array of devices,” says Tim Elkington, chief strategy officer at the UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau.

“It’s a win-win for consumers, because digital advertising pays for the wide range of free online services they increasingly rely on in their daily lives, but don’t necessarily want to pay much for.”    

Connected, calculated and creative

Helen Miall, head of marketing EMEA at digital advertising company Turn, wasn’t surprised by the results of the report, in light of changing consumer habits and the adoption of a multitude of devices.

“With the average household owning 7.4 connected devices, it’s no surprise that brands are investing more in digital advertising, particularly as formats like mobile and video increase engagement,” she says.

Miall also notes that it is how these formats are utilised which will produce results and ensure brands are reaching the right audience with the right message and at the right time.

“It’s how brands use and connect these digital formats that will separate the winners from the losers,” she adds.

“Their approach must be calculated as well as creative; with so many ads online, brands must use data-driven insights to ensure they reach consumers at the right time and with quality, relevant content as they move across screens.”

Pushing the boundaries

The IAB’s report also found that among Brits, smartphones are the most common internet-enabled devices, with an average of 1.7 units per household.

However, tablet-dedicated ad spend alone grew 118% year on year to reach £87.4 million, with 40% of UK households owning a tablet. One fifth (19%) of households have two tablets, while 11% own three or more.

“The growth figures for mobile and tablet spend reiterate that consumers are now accessing information through multiple devices,“ said Owen Sagness, general manager of Microsoft Advertising & Online UK.

“As an industry we must listen to consumer demands and anticipate their changing behaviours in order to produce creative experiences that push the boundaries of what is possible in digital advertising today.”