LONDON: Mobile advertising expenditure rose by almost a third in the UK last year despite the pressures of the downturn.

According to estimates from the IAB, the digital industry body, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the business services group, mobile adspend in the country increased by 32% to £37.6m ($58.8m; €43.3m) in 2009.

Totals improved in every quarter, with mobile search the fastest-growing format for the year as a whole, as revenues climbed by 41% to £20.2m, a market share of 54%.

"There were two distinct approaches from advertisers and publishers," said Eva Berg-Winters, assistant director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"They either cut spend or continued to invest and develop their use of mobile – with a view to coming out on top following the downturn."

Mobile display, including banners, text links, in-game advertising, pre-roll and post-roll video ads, saw sales jump by 24% to £17.4m in the same period.

Within this, investment levels in banner and text advertising expanded by 26% to £14.6m, with pre- and post-roll video advertising also up by 17% to £1.4m.

Elsewhere, the other collected formats, such as advertising embedded within text messages and picture messages, saw demand leap by 26% to £1.2m.

According to the IAB/PwC study, mobile display revenues reached a record high in the final quarter of 2009, on £5.5m overall.

The entertainment and media category spent the most on mobile display last year, generating 61.5% of all outlay, with telecoms on 14.7% and financial services on 8.1%.

Companies in the consumer goods industry followed on 3.2%, with government, social and political advertising further back on 2.7%.

Recent figures from comScore, the research firm, showed that 18.9 million people in the UK accessed the mobile web in 2009, an increase of 21% year-on-year.

Mobile phones also accounted for 23% of all time spent online last year, with smartphones like Apple's iPhone driving this trend as internet usage rates among owners of these devices rose by 70%.

A UKOM/Nielsen study also reported that the average person who surfs the web on a mobile phone currently spends 32 minutes a day engaged in this activity.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff