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Zenith: 75 per cent of internet use will be mobile in 2017

Mobile devices will account for 75 per cent of global internet use next year, according to Zenith’s new Mobile Advertising Forecasts. The mobile proportion of internet use has increased rapidly, from 40 per cent in 2012 to 68 per cent in 2016, and Zenith forecasts it to reach 79 per cent by 2018.

This first edition of the Mobile Advertising Forecasts looks at mobile advertising and mobile technology in 60 key countries around the world. It forecasts the rising amount of time consumers devote to mobile internet use, the spread of smartphones and tablets, and the growth of mobile adspend.

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Spain, Hong Kong and China lead mobile internet consumption

The countries with the highest levels of mobile internet consumption are dispersed across Western Europe, Asia and North America. Mobile internet accounts for the highest proportion of total internet use in Spain, where Zenith estimates it will account for 85 per cent of internet use in 2016. Hong Kong comes second, with 79 per cent of internet use being mobile, followed by China (76 per cent) and the US (74 per cent). Italy and India come joint fifth, at 73 per cent each.

By 2018 Zenith expects Hong Kong to have the highest mobile internet use, accounting for 89 per cent of total internet use. China will be second with 87% and Spain third with 86 per cent, followed by the United States and Italy at 83 per cent each, and India at 82 per cent.

Smartphone penetration increases 2.4 times between 2012 and 2016

The increase in mobile internet use is being driven by the rapid rise in the penetration of mobile devices. In 2012 just 23 per cent of people in our 60 markets had a smartphone, and four per cent had a tablet. Smartphone penetration has now reached 56 per cent, and increase of 2.4 times over four years, and Zenith forecasts it to rise to 63 per cent by 2018. Tablets are more of a luxury item and have not spread nearly so widely: they are owned by 15 per cent of people in our 60 markets now, and Zenith expects them reach 17 per cent penetration in 2018.

Smartphones are most common in Western Europe and Asia

The highest levels of smartphone penetration are concentrated in Western Europe and Asia. Zenith estimates that Ireland has the highest smartphone penetration this year, at 92 per cent, followed by Singapore (91 per cent), Spain (88 per cent), Norway (86 per cent) and South Korea (84 per cent). It forecasts Ireland to remain in first place in 2018, with 94 per cent penetration, followed by Switzerland and Singapore at 92 per cent each, and Norway and Taiwan at 91 per cent each.

Tablet penetration varies extremely widely between markets. In 10 of Zenith's 60 markets tablets have penetration levels above 50 per cent, and in another 10 they have penetration levels below 10 per cent. Just three per cent of people in China have tablets, which drags down the average substantially, since China accounts for 27 per cent of the population in these 60 markets. In India, which accounts for another 26 per cent, six per cent of people have tablets. The highest level of tablet penetration is in Singapore (at 75 per cent), and the lowest is in China and Thailand (three per cent).

60 per cent of internet advertising will be mobile in 2018

As Zenith stated in its Advertising Expenditure Forecasts of September 2016, mobile advertising will overtake desktop advertising in 2017, increasing its share of global internet advertising to 52 per cent from 44 per cent this year. In 2018 it expects mobile advertising to account for 60 per cent of all internet advertising. That year mobile advertising expenditure will total US$134bn, which is more than will be spent on newspaper, magazine, cinema and outdoor advertising put together.

What this means for advertisers

Zenith advises that all brands need to become mobile‐first in their digital communication: all assets – from brand websites to video ads – should be built to deliver the best and most effective experiences on mobile devices. Advertisers also need to think about consumer mobility, not just mobile devices. During the day consumers shift their attention from tablet to desktop to smartphone, sometimes while watching TV, so advertisers need to build brand experiences that are coherent across screens and devices.

Zenith also recommends that advertisers consider the full mobile ecosystem, including smartwatches, activity trackers and other smart devices, when planning their communications. Consumers tend to use the more specialist devices on very specific occasions, giving advertisers the opportunity to target these moments of their life with precision. “Mobile devices are already the primary means of accessing the internet across the world,’ said Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting at Zenith. “Countries in Western Europe, Asia and North America are leading the transition, but mobile technology is spreading rapidly everywhere. Next year mobile devices will become the main vehicle for internet advertising as well.”

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