UK FMCG mobile ad spend set to swell this year despite efficiency drive from household names

Overall, FMCG and consumer brands will spend 11% more on digital ads in 2017

Despite the likes of Unilever and Procter & Gamble slashing advertising budgets, FMCG brands are expected to invest 28% more in mobile advertising this year in the UK than they did in 2016.

Overall, FMCG and consumer brands will spend 11% more on digital ads in 2017 than they did last year, according to eMarketer’s inaugural cross-industry UK ad spend report. Total mobile spend for this category is forecast to hit just shy of £1bn.

The study follows on from Unilever – which owns the likes of Dove and Lynx – deciding to run 30% fewer ads as part of a wider cost-cutting exercise to improve efficiency. The brand has said it also intends to reduce the number of agencies it has (around 3,000) in half.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble has clamped down on ad spend to the tune of an estimated $140m per-quarter as it looks to tackle "ineffective" digital buys. Earlier this year, the Ariel-owner’s top marketer Marc Pritchard expressed his desire to bring transparency to the “murky at best, fraudulent at worst” media supply chain if it was to continue investing.

But, even in the face of more economical digital investment, it appears mobile will continue to take an increasingly larger share of FMCG ad budgets through to the end of the year.

By 2018, however, the year-on-year increase to mobile ad spend from the FMCG sector will slow from the estimated 28% to around 23.8%.

A recent study from the IAB found that digital ad spend in the UK increased by 17% in 2016 to reach £10.3bn, fueled by the growth of mobile. However, in terms of overall digital ad spend growth, eMarketer has forecast that between 2017 and 2018 there will be a 1.5% fall across industries; down from a projected 11% this year to 9.5% in 2018.

Despite some investment by FMCG-giants, driving much of the growth in the coming months will come from the retail sector.This year alone retail will account for 14.2% of all digital ad spend in the UK, thanks to the rise of e-commerce - especially in the food and grocery sector where pure-play giants like Amazon are muscling in.

Marketing investment in retail will rise by 13.4% to £1.5bn before the year is out, according to the report. Again, mobile is driving the retail industry's ad growth; investment in the medium is poised to balloon by 31% to reach just over £1bn this year.

Other core industries in the UK tracked by eMarketer, will also increase their digital ad spend in 2017, albeit by slightly more modest levels, with with increases ranging from 27% for travel to 30% for automotive.

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