Mobile Ad Impressions Part 1- Background Data
Using smartphone users as a proxy for mobile ad penetration, I have completed column B of the spreadsheet as requested. Growth in the number of smartphone users worldwide is creating huge opportunity for mobile advertising. As early as 2013, advertising company Opera generated an estimated 720 billion impressions in one year. Total smartphone users worldwide have grown from 1.43 billion in 2013 to 2.4 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach 2.87 billion by 2020. Below, I provide a detail overview of my research to emphasize the lack of data on mobile ad impressions and then provide total smartphone users and tablet users worldwide for your reference. I end with some suggestions for additional research questions given the lack of direct data on mobile ad impressions.
After an extensive search for past, present, and future numbers by year, there appear to be no publicly available sources that provide the overall number of mobile ad impressions in the world. I particularly focused on older reports from 2013-2015, as often those are no longer paywalled, but still could not identify any reports giving a total number of mobile ad impressions.
Given the lack of data on overall mobile ad impressions, you may be interested in what is available. There are some sources that provide a number for specific ad companies and specific regions. For example, this 2013 eMarketer article provides specific numbers for Opera in Brazil. EMarketer also has paywalled reports on total mobile ad impressions for ad companies like Opera. In 2013, Opera self-reported that it served over 60 billion ad impressions per month, reaching 400 million customers worldwide. This number does provide some sense of the scale of global ad impressions. Just one ad agency alone reportedly served an estimated (60*12) 720 billion ad impressions annually back in 2013, indicating that ad impressions in total are likely in the trillions across all ad agencies and assuming that annual impressions have increased since 2013.
Other sources, like Statista, publicly share data for specific social media platforms, such as for Instagram and Pinterest, over specific periods of time. However, such data does not provide the overall number of impressions, but rather percentages of how ads are shared. In the last quarter of 2016, for instance, 74% of Instagram's ad impressions were through mobile web browsers compared with 26% through installed apps.
There is also data publicly-available on the size of the mobile advertising market. According to eMarketer, mobile advertising is driving overall growth in media spending worldwide and accounted for 24.4% of total ad spending and 62.5% of digital ad spending in 2017 at $142.78 billion.
Given the lack on information on mobile ad impressions, I turned to the similar methodology I used in Parts 2 and 3 of this project- using total smartphone users as a proxy for understanding mobile advertising impressions worldwide. This article by Campaign Brief emphasizes that the increasing penetration of smartphones around has "transformed the way that advertisers communicate with consumers" increasing contact points between companies and customers. Smartphones are the touch point for mobile advertisers and, as such, provide a valid proxy for understanding the global reach of mobile ad impressions.
Before focusing solely on number of smartphones, I also researched average impressions by smartphone to attempt to estimate the total number of mobile ad impressions by multiplying the average and the total number of smartphones. Unfortunately, no such average number is publicly-available online.
TOTAL SMARTPHONES WORLDWIDE
I have entered the total number of smartphone users worldwide for 2013-2020 in the spreadsheet. These values are consistent with the figures used to calculate the percentages in column C. I'm also listing the figures here linked to the relevant sources and with detail on any calculations:
2013: 1.43 billion
2014: 1.57 billion
2015: 1.86 billion
2016: 2.167 billion (2.4 billion smartphone users in 2017 a 10.8% increase over 2016. 2016 = 2400/1.108 = 2.167 billion smartphone users)
2017: 2.4 billion
2018: 2.53 billion
2019: 2.71 billion
2020: 2.87 billion
As mentioned in Parts 2 and 3 of this project, I have excluded tablets from the above calculation, because there is overlap between smartphone and tablet users that publicly-available sources do not account for. However, you may be interested in the overall number of tablet users worldwide:
2013: .66 billion (46.15% of smartphone value)
2014: .86 billion (54.78% of smartphone value)
2015: 1 billion (53.76% of smartphone value)
2016: 1.12 billion (51.68% of smartphone value)
2017: 1.23 billion (51.25% of smartphone value)
2018: 1.32 billion (52.17% of smartphone value)
2019: 1.4 billion (51.66% of smartphone value)
2020: 1.46 billion (50.87%)
The number of tablets relative to smartphones shows that growth in tablet users has stayed relatively consistent (generally around 50-52% with some outliers) compared to smartphones. In general, there is about 1 tablet user to every 2 smartphone users with fewer in 2013 and a slight increase in 2014 and 2015.
POSSIBLE CONTINUED RESEARCH
Given what is and isn't publicly available on mobile ad impressions, you may be interested in these follow-up research questions:
Provide total worldwide mobile ad spending for 2013-2020.
Provide total mobile ad spending in Asia Pacific for 2013-2020.
Provide total smartphone users in X country/region for 2013-2020.
Consistent with Parts 2 and 3 of this project, I have provided the total numbers of smartphone users worldwide as a proxy for understanding the reach of mobile ad impressions. Although no direct data is publicly available on mobile ad impressions, Opera's estimated 720 billion overall impressions in 2013 indicate that is an extremely large number. Total smartphone users worldwide grew from 1.43 billion in 2013 to 2.4 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach 2.87 billion by 2020.