The state of mobile in 5 charts

LIN-Mobile1This is the final installment in the series “Mobile Next,” Digiday’s coverage of innovations in mobile media. This series is sponsored by LIN Mobile, a premium mobile marketing provider with a unified solution for precise targeting, high-impact creative and real-time analytics.


Every year for the past few years has been declared “The Year of Mobile,” and there’s a reason for that. We are increasingly shifting toward a mobile-first world, and the numbers only continue to back that up.

According to data from Nielsen, smartphone ownership increased from 44 percent in 2011 to 65 percent in 2013, and tablet ownership from just 5 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2013. The increase in mobile device ownership has unsurprisingly driven an overall increase in mobile usage, mobile data consumption, mobile commerce and, of course, mobile ad spend over the past few years. People are now spending more time browsing on their mobile devices (34 hours and 17 minutes a month) than on their desktop computers (27 hours and 3 minutes a month).

Digiday has rounded up some mobile data to put the trends in perspective. Check out these five charts for an overview of the state of mobile:

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According to data from Cisco, mobile data traffic is expected to grow to 15.0 exabytes a month by 2018, which is nearly an 11-fold increase from 2013. That is a compound annual growth rate of about 61 percent from 2013 to 2018. Much of this mobile traffic growth will be fueled by Asia Pacific and North America regions, which will account for an estimated two-thirds of global mobile traffic by 2018.

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Mobile ad spend will continue to track this upward trend in mobile traffic. Data from eMarketer shows that mobile ad spend is on track to rise 75.1 percent to reach $31.45 billion, which will make up almost a quarter of overall global digital ad spend. By 2018, global mobile ad spending is projected to reach $94.91 billion.

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With more people spending more time on their mobile devices, more people are now shopping via mobile commerce. According to Goldman Sachs’ forecast, by 2018 mobile-specific commerce will account for about $638 billion, which is as much as all e-commerce accounted for in 2013. Goldman predicts that most of the growth in “m-commerce” will come from tablets, not smartphones.

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However, for now, the majority of online shopping takes place on desktop computers (90.4 percent), with smartphones still driving more spending (6 percent) than tablets (3.5 percent), according to comScore. Event tickets (10.9 percent) and apparel and accessories (6.2 percent) account for the most smartphone purchases.

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When it comes to mobile commerce, search is the most common starting point on the path to purchase, according to a Google study in partnership with Nielsen. Seventy-four percent of mobile consumers use mobile search in the shopping process. Regular old mobile Web search is still the most popular starting point (48 percent), followed by brands’ mobile websites (38 percent) and then branded mobile apps (26 percent).

The study also found that 71 percent of mobile consumers use mobile to find a nearby store location, and 55 percent of mobile shoppers want to purchase within an hour and 83 percent within a day — so location information and offers are important for brands and retailers to consider when designing their mobile sites and apps.