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Video consumption on mobile is at record levels, with 60% of users watching short-form content

The popularity of video on mobiles is at a record high, with UK companies spending over £10bn on internet ads in 2016. This is according latest Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)/PwC UK Digital Adspend report which says that UK internet advertising is growing at its fastest rate for nine years.

Key findings

  • The amount UK companies spend on internet ads has increased 17% year-on-year to £10.3bn in 2016.
  • Mobile video ads are the fastest-growing format, doubling in size (103%) to £693 million, accounting for 29% of the total growth in online ad budgets.
  • 60% of people who watch short clips, TV or film on their phone do so whilst “out and about”.
  • UKOM, the official body that measures online behaviour, shows that nearly half (48%) of an adult’s internet time is now spent on smartphones, compared to 38% on desktops/laptops and 14% on tablets.

Annual growth of internet ad budgets

Discussing why video is so popular, Catherine Cribbin, senior industry initiatives executive at IAB UK, says video captures people’s imaginations with its ability to bring stories to life. In terms of which types of video are most appealing, Cribbin says: “We know from our Consumer Insights Omnibus Study (YouGov February 2017) that short clips are the most common type of online video watched, with 48% of those clips being watched on smartphones.”

Cribbin says that a key trend is how consumers are now engaging with video content on their mobiles, and are using mobiles as their main screens. She adds: “We already know that vertical video is a key trend for 2017 and beyond, and significant volumes of mobile video being traded programmatically (83% in 2016) highlight that mobile video growth isn’t slowing down.”

Creating video content is not enough, marketers must ensure it is the right type of content. As Cribbin says, it's important to create video content that leaves users feeling that they have gained something for their precious time. “There are so many wonderful examples out there showing how digital is the smartest way to reach and wow audiences. One of my favourite examples of digital video is’s ‘Captain Obvious’ campaign where clicking on the ‘skip’ button makes Captain Obvious (and others in the video) start skipping!”

As formats move forward, there are ever-growing ways to reach consumers on the move. Cribbin concludes: “The world of digital video offers brands many new, exciting and often playful ways to engage with users, from 360 video to Facebook live, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). With 73% of 18-24 year olds watching video on their smartphones when out and about (YouGov February 2017), brands need to utilise the unique features of digital to capture the increasingly time-poor tech-savvy UK consumer.”


Total sample size was 2,018 adults. Survey was conducted online in February 2017. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Find further information about the study here.

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