The Mobile Advertising Landscape. How Consumers Are Engaging With You in 2021

Written By Andi Wilkinson. Updated 9th September 2018
Creative Director of Made By Factory. UX Designer & SEO Nerd, Andi is also a board member of Manchester Digital, and speaks and writes on a variety of web-related topics.
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Let's talk about the mobile advertising landscape. The following article was written after an in-day training session at Google HQ, St Giles, London. At the time of rewriting in 2021, we have rechecked statistics. Please feel free to drop us a line in the comments if you have any insights to share with us!

We live in a multi-screen world, accessing the content in numerous ways. And that's not just digital devices. It includes TV, computers, mobile, tablet, desktop, laptops and an array of other devices we may use to connect to the outside world.

To communicate with our customers, then the business must engage consumers in their multi-device life. Mobile advertising is the way forward.

Mobile Advertising Landscape In The 2010's

Mobile advertising landscape mobile phone usage
The Mobile Advertising Landscape. How Consumers Are Engaging With You in 2021 4

In 2013, TV was still the forerunner in the advertising world, with mobile usage creeping up behind.

By 2015, year mobile usage had increased exponentially and taken over, dominating the time we spend engaged with major media. Techcrunch shows figures from the USA, but the trend is similar in the UK and increasing worldwide. Marketers needed to catch on to this new normal.

The time we spend on mobile is 85% on Apps. We don't use our phones as phones today. They are our own personal assistants. Usage of the internet on computers is also decreasing. Tablet usage is highest amongst the older generation, aka "silver surfers."

Smartphones Are Now The UK's Number One Device.

It's official. We spend more time on our mobiles than on any other device. The main reason for this has been the surge in 4G and now 5G. See Ofcom report

At the time of this report, we spend at least on average 2 hours 51 minutes a day engaging with mobiles. It's impossible to overlook the marketing opportunity for advertisers.

Mobile advertising took off between 2012 to 2013, when it doubled. This growth meant that conventional advertising industry platforms began to wax and wane. 

The developments of mobile technologies made it possible for companies to be present to consumers 100 of the time. Basically, we carry the potential to view every advertiser's content, products and services at any time. We don't have to be at home or in front of a billboard. What an era for marketing!

With the massive uptake in mobile phones and social media during this time, it was clear to marketers that more advertising budget needed to be placed on mobile advertising.

Our mobile phones have become an extension of ourselves. With us all the time. Over 80% of us now own a smartphone, and we pick them up over 150 times a day. Marketers can't ignore this huge potential for advertising.

Two in five of us look at our phones within 5 minutes of waking up, and a third of us check them before falling asleep. Ofcom has dubbed our use of phones as 'a decade of digital dependency'. 

How does this relate to mobile advertising with Google? The Google Display Network (GDN) and its partners provide an opportunity to engage with your existing, considering potential customers in-app, whilst browsing and on YouTube, to name a few.

No longer is it necessary to wait for users to search. You can reach potential customers through a plethora of rich media content, including banner ads, video ads, ads that display in apps, and so much more.

Where are we spending our time?

The Mobile Advertising Landscape. How Consumers Are Engaging With You in 2021 1
Image By Statista

Recognising our customer base and how we need to engage with them is critical for mobile advertising in any digital marketing strategy

For those of you confident with Facebook campaigns, it may be that you have not considered the value of sponsoring your video onto the YouTube platform, which currently is the worlds second-largest search engine. Not a share that should be overlooked.

Over five billion videos are viewed on YouTube a day, and at least six billion hours of video are viewed a month. Think its a waste of time putting an ad there? Think again. For the 85% of mobile device time spent in-app, only 20% or so of that is spent on Facebook. 

A well rounded mobile advertising campaign with multi-channel options will give you the best chance at reaching people wherever they are. Publishers should look to market their content across a range of platforms.

It's common to think because your favourite mobile app is Facebook, that's what everyone else does too, but feeling like this and ignoring the data can hinder your advertising strategy because there is a whole mobile advertising landscape to consider.

For example, most people I know use an iPhone. Because of this, am I to assume that the Apple iPhone has most of the UK's market share and should discount Android?

In fact, Apple's Phone has around 15% of the market share. Android has over 49%. Think about it before committing to those limiting self-beliefs I hear quite often like no one uses an Android or AdWords, which is just a waste of money. Do your research.

Platform to Platform: Comparing Mobile Advertising.

A typical complaint about mobile advertising is that mobile conversion rate is higher, or not as many conversions happen on a mobile full stop. There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious of which you may not have considered. 

Our mobiles are our own little pocket helpers, and they may be responsible for far more clicks than you realise.

Over 65% of us start our activities on a mobile and then continue on a laptop. 66% of UK adults use smartphones daily than around 40% 2-3 years ago. The mobile ad is helping more than people realise.

Over 90% of 16-24-year-olds use one, and the largest uptake is the 55+ demographic, with over 50% now owning smartphones compared with about 15% three years ago.

77% of mobile users use said mobile for research. 46% of us have purchased on their mobile, but here's the one we often miss: 

40% have researched a product on mobile later bought on a computer and staggeringly 90% of people who study stuff on mobile go on to make a purchase. In fact, Mobile devices are shopping assistants for consumers.

Mobile Ads And The "Showrooming" Phenomenon

The Mobile Advertising Landscape. How Consumers Are Engaging With You in 2021 2
OpenBravo talk about the showrooming phenomenon

When you view a product physically, in a showroom, and then complete the purchase online. Whilst mobile advertising, you can reach customers at that critical time while in that all-important "research" phase.

IAB reports on the digital AdSpend for 2015. The UK spent over £8bn last year on digital advertising. The display is growing exponentially. Don't take our word for it. Look at the statistics here. 65% of people notice ads on their mobile.

Mobile Advertising: What can you Do?

One of the first things to do is ensure you have a well optimised mobile site. If you don't have a mobile optimised site, why are you sending traffic to it?

Also, remember most activities begin on mobile but don't end there. 82% purchased in-store, 45% bought an online desktop/tablet, and only 17% purchased directly on the mobile phone. 

This means mobile has gone on to help with many purchases that ended up elsewhere. 40% of us went to a competitor if we landed on a site that was no good on mobile. 

A Google Ads (Adwords) Mobile specialist like ourselves will be able to show you how your mobile-assisted in those valuable conversions by using cross-platform reporting.

Mobile speed is essential. On average one-second improvement in mobile site working can improve conversations by 27%. Try testing your speed with this handy tool from Google

Speed can depend on a variety of factors, though, such as your hosting company. Our own site fluctuates on speed due to hosting. We keep file sizes to a minimum, and for that reason, we are currently moving to a much faster platform. See our article on why website speed is everything. 

Mobile Site Optimisation

Some other things you can do is ensure your mobile site has click-to-call buttons for complex interactions. Do you have a complex form or extensive research on your desktop site that could be handled by a call if someone was in that critical research stage on mobile?

Make it easy to continue on another device. Perhaps by allowing users to log in to your site with Facebook or Gmail. People move between devices during the day.

The best advice we can give to marketers is this. "Be there, Be relevant, Be optimised." 40% turn to competitors after a bad mobile experience. Ensure you do everything to make your customers as comfortable as possible when they are with you on mobile.

With our changing landscape, we always advise the implementation of mobile best practice in our projects. We are a Digital Marketing Agency in Manchester & Google Partners  PPC Specialists with a specialism in mobile advertising, search and display to facilitate business growth.

If you need a mobile advertising agency, Talk to us today about your campaign strategy. Call 0161 826 1222 or drop us a line at