The results are in for the annual IAB UK and PwC Digital Adspend study, which reveals that UK advertisers spent £13.44 billion on digital advertising in 2018. A year-on-year increase of 15% to £1.7 billion shows the continued confidence in the power of digital advertising.

Almost all growth was driven by mobile and video. For the first time ever, ad spend on smartphones exceeded desktop, accounting for 51% of the total digital ad spend compared to 45% in 2017. These figures reflect consumer behaviour, with recent data showing that people spend two-thirds of their online time on smartphones.

Growth for display accelerated over the past year, with video driving the majority of growth in display, making up for 44% (£2,307 million), followed by banner ads 28% and native 23%. For the second year running, outstream has exceeded pre-roll video, accounting for 57% of all video advertising.  

YouGov data produced specifically for the report revealed that nearly two-thirds of marketing decision makers agree that online video assets should be made bespoke for the platform or device they are shown on, confirming that marketers use online advertising for longer-term brand building not just short-term sales activation.

Commenting on the results, the IAB’s chief digital officer, Tim Elkington said “seeing mobile now account for over half of all digital ad spend is a significant milestone. In a decade of reporting these figures separately, we’ve seen spend rise from £38 million in 2009 to a staggering £6.88 billion in 2018.”

“Alongside increased investment from leading advertisers, digital advertising remains an accessible route to market for SMEs. We continue to see evidence of online advertising being used for brand-building, especially by the growing market of direct to consumer brands,” commented Jon Mew, CEO of IAB UK.

In addition, the figures show that companies with the IAB Gold Standard outperformed the total display market, seeing a 30% year-on-year increase in ad spend revenue versus 22% overall.