Worldwide smart-phone ownership, which is transforming the way advertisers communicate with consumers, will continue to expand in 2018, according to a new study by media agency Zenith.
Zenith says that 66% of individuals in 52 countries studied will own a smartphone, up from 63% in 2017.
Penetration growth is slowing as penetration hits 80%-90% in most advanced market. The number of smartphone owners is expected to rise 7% in 2018, compared to 10% growth in 2017, 14% in 2016 and 21% in 2015.
Zenith says the increased use of smartphone and other mobile devices means more frequent contact between brands and consumers. It also gives consumer more opportunities to connect with media content wherever they are, at any time of the day.
Some of these contacts include paid advertising, but mobile technology is also being used to deliver branded content and create social media engagement, the report says.
Zenith estimates that 59% of all internet ad spending will go to ads viewed on mobile devices in 2017 and expects that to rise to 59% in 2018 and 62% in 2019.
In the U.S. mobile ad spend will be $156 billion, accounting for 26% of all media ad spending.
“For most consumers and advertisers, the mobile internet is now the normal internet,” said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith’s Head of Forecasting and Director of Global Intelligence. “The ownership of mobile devices is beginning to saturate in some markets, but there’s plenty of room for further growth across the rest of the world.”
Five countries markets will have smartphone penetration above 90% in 2018, according to Zenith: the Netherlands (94%), Taiwan (93%), Hong Kong (92%), Norway and Ireland (each at 91%).
The country with the highest number of smartphone users will be China, with 1.3 billion users, followed by India, with 530 million users. The US will be third, with 229 million users.
Tablets are not as common as smartphones. Zenith notes that while each individual usually has their own smartphone, tablets are often shared by a family. Zenith estimates that tablet penetration has edged up to 18.7% in 2017, compared to 17.8% and will hit 20.1% in 2019.
Tablet ownership varies widely from country to country, with penetration in the Netherlands at 74% compared to 4.8% in China. Tablet penetration is declining in Thailand, Zenith notes.
Zenith says mobile devices account for 73% of time spent using the internet in 2018, up from 70% in 2017 and 65% in 2016. Mobile internet use has doubled since 2011. By 2019, Zenith expects mobile to account for 76% of mobile internet use.
“Because the internet is now mobile, brands have the opportunity to use it to communicate to consumers during more of their lives – when they are shopping, socializing and travelling as well as when at their desk. By reaching consumers at the right occasions with tailored messages, brands can guide them through the consumer journey more effectively,” said Vittorio Bonori, Zenith’s Global Brand President.
The 52 countries included in this report are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK and the USA. Together, they represent 65% of the world’s population.