Agencies and advertisers had been eagerly awaiting the latest release of the IAB’s ad spend report for 2018: an opportunity to assess the health of the industry after a year of controversy.  Mobile has suffered a reputational crisis – amid concerns over brand safety, ad fraud and the misuse of citizens’ personal data.

Yet the results paint a picture of health and stability with mobile ad spend growing 31.5% year-on-year to overtake desktop for the first time and claim £6.88bn in UK advertiser spend.

A major factor is that audiences now spend more time on mobile devices than desktop computers. But behind that, mobile’s real drivers have been social media and video: mobile video ad spend grew 45% YoY to account for 76% of all video spend, while mobile accounts for 80% of social media spend – at £2.5bn. Paid search remains flat, however, accounting for 49% of mobile ad spend, down from 50% in 2017.

Despite accounting for just 16% of all mobile display spend “standard display” still grew by 36%. Essentially a mix of tenancy and banner activity (including interstitials, the majority of which wouldn’t pass the Coalition for Better Ads standard) is seems many advertisers still favour quantity over quality and fail to put creative first in mobile advertising

Video ads should be mobile first, vertical and subtitled; and native units should continue to flourish both in and out of feed across social media, as developers update advertising options with product features.

Alongside software innovation, 5G may also present an opportunity to further improve mobile advertising and increase the value of a mobile impression by creating ad experiences that are more suitable for the environment – as data plans increase.