Canada’s mobile minutes to increase, but lagging globally: study

Zenith says mobile will soon represent 33.7% of total ad spend in Canada, but that's just over half the global average.

Proportional ad spend on mobile devices is catching up to the amount of time spent on mobile, according to the latest projections made in Zenith’s annual Mobile Advertising Forecasts.

The media firm’s forecasting says two-thirds (66.7%) of Canadians’ online time will be spent on mobile by 2019. That year, 33.7% of Canadian ad dollars will go toward mobile.

As of year-end 2016, 21.2% of advertisers’ budgets ($12 billion) was spend on mobile. At an average growth rate of 59% over the next three years, mobile spend is set to significantly outpace total spend in terms of growth (13.5%).

For specific mobile spend categories, uncategorized or “other” forms of mobile advertising will take the lion’s share of ad dollars, but mobile video ad dollars will see staggering growth over the next few years.

In 2010, only an estimated $1 million of Canadian ad spend went toward mobile video. By 2019, it is predicted that $192 million will be spent on mobile video advertising — a 56.1% growth rate from 2016 alone. Zenith attributes this growth to lower data prices and higher quality videos over time.

Also growing (though still taking a smaller portion of the ad spend) is the mobile classified category. The study indicates that $21 million was spent on the vertical in 2016. By 2019, it will reach $36 million, a 71.4% increase over three years.

No mobile ad spend category is shrinking, but the slowest-growing category over the next three years is projected to be mobile display, tracked at 45.8%.

Although growth in smartphone penetration has slowed due to market maturation, penetration still creeps upward, ending 2016 at 59.9% and working its way up to 65.6% by 2019. It’s worth noting that in the 52 key markets studied by Zenith, smartphone penetration in Canada is actually below the global average of 66% (driven largely by advanced markets that have 80 to 90% penetration, such as China and India).

Canada’s mobile “time spent” statistics are also below average worldwide rates, although it has a far higher tablet penetration rate (52% as of 2016, compared to the global average of 20%). China, again, is a major influencer in these global results, with only a 4.8% penetration rate for tablets. The results seem to indicate that although Canadians do consume a lot of digital content, larger (and more expensive) devices such as desktop computers, laptops and consoles are still prevalent in the market.

As a result, Zenith puts Canada significantly behind the global average for mobile ad dollars. By 2019, mobile dollars will represent 62% of total global ad spend — nearly twice as much as Canada’s rate.

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