Stats of the Week: Mobile ad revenue, mobile ad blocking

This week’s stats round-up is all about mobile advertising: its growth around the world, both in terms of revenue and the frequency that it’s blocked.

Since it’s been “the year of mobile” for quite a few years now, it only makes sense that mobile ad spend would outpace desktop. But the more ads appear on mobile screens, the more people are inclined to block them. Here are seven recent figures that highlight just how massive mobile advertising has become:

(Almost) 100 billion

It has long been predicted that mobile ad revenue would overshadow that of desktop. According to ZenithOptimedia’s new Advertising Expenditure Forecast, published on Monday, mobile’s dominance has arrived early; the agency sees brands spending $99.3 billion on mobile advertising next year, versus $97.4 billion on desktop ad spend.

Over the last year, mobile ad revenue has grown 95 percent, now accounting for 22.4 percent of the global ad spend. Mobile’s growth happened at the expense of nearly every other medium, from desktop to radio.


Zenith expects an additional 46 percent this year, followed by 29 percent the two subsequent years, resulting in 58 percent of the total ad market by 2018.


Mobile’s growth is happening faster in some regions than others. Mobile advertising already accounts for 56 percent of Chinese ad spend, a number Zenith expects to swell to 78 percent by 2018. Before that happens, China is predicted to become the world’s largest mobile ad market, spending $32.7 billion to the U.S.’ $30.5 billion.

The U.K. is the only other place in the world where mobile makes up more than half of the national ad spend. However, that may be affected by its decision to leave the European Union, which can cost as much as the equivalent of $96 billion in ad spend growth.


Mobile advertising may be on the rise all around the world, but not everyone is caught up. According to last month’s ClickZ Intelligence Report, “The state of mobile marketing,” only 18 percent of our respondents in North America and 14 percent in Europe believe their organization has an advanced approach to mobile advertising.

In North America, the largest number of people – 40 percent – consider themselves intermediate mobile advertisers.



The shift toward mobile has affected on different ad formats. Banner ads don’t work as well on the smaller mobile screens and as a result, Zenith also expects them to shrink by 3.1 percent this year, despite increasing by 8.6 percent in 2015.

On the flip side, online video is getting better and better from a user experience (UX) standpoint and as a result, video ads are projected to grow by 20.1 percent each year until 2018. Similarly, Zenith foresees paid social growing 23.6 percent over that period.


The ClickZ Intelligence report shows that Amazon and Apple are onto something. Paid search trumps all the mobile formats when it comes to ROI, according to the majority of respondents. Paid search comes with less uncertainty than either display or social advertising; 30 percent don’t know how to rate their ROI, compared with a respective 37 and 35 percent.

But of those who do understand, only 12 percent say that mobile paid search results in poor ROI. Nearly one-third think it’s at least good; 15 percent said the same about display.



Ad blocking is primarily seen as a desktop issue, but recent Page Fair research shows that its mobile adoption is increasing at an alarming rate. Around the world, 22 percent of smartphone users – 419 million people – are blocking ads on the mobile web. Ad blockers have gotten sophisticated enough that they’re also moving in on in-app ads.

In North American and Europe, there are 14 million people using mobile ad blockers on a monthly basis. That sounds like a lot, until you look at the Asia Pacific region. In Indonesia, the number of monthly users is 38 million, which is roughly the population of California.

Even Indonesia’s mobile ad block usage is a drop in the bucket, compared with China and India, where there are a respective 159 and 122 million users.


Why are so many people using ad blockers? The frequently-cited culprits include irrelevant ads and disruptive ads that are difficult to escape. On mobile, they also greatly improve loading time, according to website performance company Catchpoint Systems.

Through May, Catchpoint analyzed the loading times of 20 mobile sites from five publishers and 15 brands, with and without ad blockers turned on. On publishers’ websites, loading speed increased 27 to 49 percent with ad blockers.

CNN had the slowest site of the study, with a page taking an average of 14.8 seconds to load without an ad blocker; with, the time dropped down to 7.6 percent. Brand pages generally loaded faster than those of publishers, even without an ad blocker, Amazon’s site loaded in 1.68 seconds.


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