LONDON: Mobile advertising expenditure is due to rise rapidly in Europe's biggest markets during the next five years, driven by the accelerating uptake of smartphones and apps.

According to adsmobi, the media buying platform, and mobileSQUARED, the research firm, adspend through this channel should hit $264m across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK in 2011.

Looking ahead, revenues are predicted to be worth $1bn by 2014 - ahead of previous forecasts which pegged 2015 as the date the billion-dollar threshold would be reached - and $1.8bn by 2016.

"The European mobile advertising space is now demonstrating the strong growth that has been projected for a number of years," said Nick Lane, chief analyst at mobileSQUARED.

At present, the UK delivers 47% of the ad revenues generated by this medium, easily bettering France and Italy in second and third position, although Britain's share is expected to fall to 40% by 2016.

Overall, Germany's mobile market is likely to see the most rapid growth, as returns rise from $13.9m to $98m, although its contribution remains somewhat modest.

Display ads are expected to account for over 60% of spend in the UK in 2011, compared with around 45% in France, Germany and Italy. Display is set to yield $135m in 2011, and secure $705m in 2016.

More broadly, the study predicted smartphone penetration should reach 24% in the "Big 5" markets this year, peaking at 39% in the UK, followed by Italy on 28%, France on 25% and Germany on 12%.

By 2016, this total is anticipated to stand at 80% in the UK, 65% in Italy, 46% in France and 43% in Germany. Across all the featured nations, there will be 241m smartphones, an overall share of 55%.

The number of mobile internet users should top 93m this year, led by the UK on 30.8m and Italy on 26.2m, with aggregate figures surpassing 200m by 2016.

Turning to apps, a user base of 90m could more than double to 197.7m in 2016, with greater numbers of Italian consumers currently using applications than the mobile internet.

Mobile advertising will reach 78.2m people in 2011, the study added, and 191m by 2016, with average revenue per user of $0.28 and $0.76 on these two dates respectively.

Data sourced from adsmobi; additional content by Warc staff