Mobile is growing faster than any other advertising industry, according to recent reports. Anyone who works in the advertising industry, however, might argue that this is just common sense. After all, mobile drives more than a third of traffic and more people are spending time on mobile than desktop or any other devices.

Here are some details:

Mobile is Growing Faster than Any Other Ad Sector

A host of data reiterates the fact that mobile is growing faster than any other advertising industry. All the reports agree that mobile is taking over the internet. And all the numbers point to the fact that mobile is the future, in terms of both traffic and ad spend.

Business Insider expects US mobile ad spend will hit almost $42 billion by 2018.  This budget includes mobile search ads, mobile web ads, in-app display ads, and mobile video ads. Revenue will explode for mobile display, video, and search.

Social media ad spend will tip by the end of the year. Mobile is set to overtake desktop ad spend for social media by the end of 2014. Business Insider expects social media ad spend to top $14 billion by 2018. Increased social media ad performance is driving up prices despite steady traffic loads across the social networks.

Major growth drivers include social programmatic ad platforms, mobile app install ads, and programmatic buying. Though the 2013 market share for mobile programmatic ad revenue was only 6%, Business Insider predicts this will increase to 43% in 2018. Programmatic ad spend is widely agreed to be the future of the advertising industry, but some barriers prevent speedier adoption, such as technological limitations, lack of industry-wide transparency around methodology, and loss of control.

Some reports suggest that global mobile marketing spend  could reach around $220 billion within the decade, including advertising, apps, messaging, mCommerce, and CRM. So far, however, consumers are outpacing marketers and advertising with their adoption of mobile devices. In order to meet these projections, advertisers would have to catch up to both technology and customers.

Mobile is predicted to be the fourth-largest advertising medium by 2016. ZenithOptimedia predicts that in two years, mobile spend will consist of almost one-third of online ad spend.

Mobile Traffic Drives Mobile Ad Spend

These mobile ad spend numbers are driven by traffic, since advertisers go where the eyeballs are. This data will help analysts and businesses predict the best outlets for their ad budgets.

Here are key traffic patterns that are driving the mobile marketing and advertising budgets:

Mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic at the beginning of 2014. Mobile devices accounted for over half of online traffic at the beginning of 2014, and that number continues to grow. 

Apps dominate mobile traffic. The vast majority of mobile internet usage occurs through apps. On average, people spend over 30 hours per month on apps, up from 18 hours per month in 2011.

Younger users use more. The younger someone is, the more time they spend on mobile devices. The same study found that people aged 18-24 spend around 37 hours per month on their smartphones, followed closely by people aged 25-34, who spend around 35 hours per month on apps. The numbers decline as users get older.

Social and search are king and queen. These are the two most dominant ways that people spend their time online, followed closely by entertainment.

Number of apps per person remains relatively stable. The average number of apps per person increased from 26.5 to 26.8 between Q4 2012 and 2013, despite the big jump in mobile time online.

Implications for Advertisers

It’s not hard to see which way the wind is blowing.

Mobile is growing faster than any other advertising segment right now because that’s where people want to spend their time. Though most advertisers can see that, mobile ad spending still isn’t keeping up with user growth.

Chances are, most advertisers still aren’t fully exploiting their mobile advertising potential.

Though programmatic is the future, the opacity of the industry practices is slowing adoption for many. Despite its efficiency, it is still complex and difficult, and the majority ad buyers still work with up to 20 suppliers. The alternative? Television, which is also seeing an influx of programmatic practices.

To stay on the edge of the curve, advertisers should utilize monetization and promotion platforms that incorporate the latest industry practices and technology.

Clearly, mobile is growing faster than any other internet segment. All of the data points to mobile app advertising as the most profitable segment, for the next several years and possibly longer.