• Retailers seeking holiday shoppers were the biggest buyers of mobile ads in the second half of 2018 with a 49% share of the market. Retailers were ahead of industries such as media (23%), finance (6%), automotive (5%) and telecom (4%), among others, according to a Smaato reportshared with Mobile Marketer.
  • Within the retail category, the biggest share of spending (28%) was among marketplaces that include retail chains with an online presence and e-commerce websites, such as Amazon, Wish and Walmart. Retail marketplaces had a bigger share than consumer packaged goods (9%), electronics (6%) and fashion (5%).
  • Marketplaces were responsible for the 13-percentage-point gain in the retail industry’s share of mobile ad spending. Their growth exceeded gains by fashion brands (up 5 points) and electronics (up 2 points).


Smaato’s research — based on ad requests, bids and impressions on its mobile ad platform — confirms that the holiday season was heavily promotional with retailers significantly boosting their ad spending to reach mobile shoppers as part of a “bricks and clicks” strategy. Mobile shopping during the holidays jumped as 64% of shoppers said they placed online orders on a smartphone, per a survey by digital marketing firm Adlucent. Mobile’s role as a shopping research tool boosted impressions for product listing ads (PLAs) 113%, with mobile orders up by 152% and revenue up 239% from a year earlier, Adlucent found.

Facebook, Amazon and Google parent company Alphabet were huge beneficiaries of the surge in holiday ad spending, as each company reported blowout results for the final three months of the year. Amazon’s fledgling ad business surged by 95% in Q4 from a year earlier, outpacing Facebook’s reported 30% gain and Google’s 20% increase. Mobile ad revenue accounted for 93% of Facebook’s total ad sales, compared to 89% from a year earlier. Amazon Ads helped to drive a fivefold surge in e-commerce channel advertising, according to digital ad platform Kenshoo.

The second half of the year includes several key days for retailers. Along with the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, there is Alibaba’s annual Singles’ Day, the November 11 shopping event that celebrates people who aren’t in relationships. The Chinese e-commerce giant saw a 27% jump in sales to a record $30.8 billion during the 24-hour event, and 90% of those sales were attributed to mobile orders. More than half (57%) of Chinese shoppers use the occasion to buy overseas products, per research firm Oliver Wyman, which means marketers in Japan, the U.S. and South Korea must be prepared for a surge in orders.

Retailers can prolong the holiday momentum by boosting investments in mobile marketing and social media to reach shoppers throughout the year. Fifty percent of retailers said a mobile shopping app is a top priority for their omnichannel strategies, while 45% listed mobile points of sale as another key to their plans, Shopgate recently reported. More than half (57%) of consumers said they have used a retailer’s mobile app while in stores, often to redeem or find coupons or discover items on sale, per Yes Marketing.