Commentary

Mobile Ad Spend Finally Overtakes Desktop Spend

Precisely when did we shift from the age of the desktop to the Mobile Age?

I’ve heard a thousand answers to this question. During a recent chat, Nick Law, R/GA’s vice chairman and Global Chief Creative Officer, said it happened around 2012, when Facebook made a hard turn toward mobile.

 “I think you can trace the switch to mobile to when [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg insisted on it, and Facebook went from a desktop application to a mobile application in like a year,” Law submitted.

“The story that’s told is that he announced it, and then whenever developers came to him to show work, if they didn’t show it to him on a mobile screen, he sent them away,” he said. “I knew people who worked at Facebook at that time, and it’s actually true … Mobile has been the most important screen at least from then onward.”

That may be true, but, in terms of ad dollars, mobile didn’t actually overtake desktop until… now.

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Yes, according to fresh findings from WARC, mobile advertising superseded desktop dollars for the first time, this year.

After growing 35.2% year-over-year, global mobile advertising will hit $98.3 billion in 2017 -- representing 23% of global ad spending, the London-based research firm estimates.

Remarkably, one company (yes, Facebook) is expected to eat more than a third of that mobile pie -- or about $34 billion -- this year.

With mobile display ad spending expected to reach $45.2 billion across key markets, this year, WARC found a strong correlation between Facebook’s mobile ad growth and mobile display growth more broadly.

Yet, as Facebook’s mobile ad business matures, the global mobile display market will see slowing growth, WARC warns.

Still king, meanwhile, TV is expected to remain the world’s largest ad medium by spend this year and next, at around $139 billion, per WARC.

WARC’s research encompasses developed markets like the United States, the United Kingdom, China, India, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Australia, Brazil, and Canada.

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