Mobile advertising will finally get the spending it deserves—in 2018

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US Media Ad Spending Chart eMarketer

The mobile advertising market has grown rapidly over the years, but it’s still a sliver of overall ad spending—5.7% of the $171 billion total ad market in the US last year, according to eMarketer. This despite the fact that Americans spend an ever-growing amount of time on their phones—about 19% of total media consumption time last year, also via eMarketer.

The company’s latest ad forecast shows mobile finally getting the spend it deserves, but not for several more years. In 2018, eMarketer expects mobile to represent 26.4% of the $220 billion US ad market—an increase of almost $50 billion, and probably closer to the percentage time spent on mobile devices (which by then will be higher too).

Share of time spent with major media by US adults

What should change? A mix of things, including people spending even more time on their mobile devices, better mobile apps and sites, more innovative—and perhaps more effective—forms of mobile advertising, and increasing focus on mobile from ad sellers and buyers. (Mobile won’t be stealing only from print—eMarketer expects the “desktop” internet ad market to shrink almost $10 billion between 2013 and 2018.)

Mary Meeker—the legendary internet analyst currently at Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm—highlighted the discrepancies between time spent and ad spending on print and mobile in her most recent internet trends report. Here’s the appropriate slide, where she notes that print is still drawing a disproportionate amount of ad spending vs. time spent, and suggests that mobile is coming to eat its lunch.

Mary Meeker mobile versus print advertising chart