LONDON: Half of UK marketers are using programmatic for buying smartphone inventory, according to a new survey, but many continue to have little understanding of the process.

The findings emerged from a study for industry body IAB UK, which carried out in-depth research among 301 marketers across a range of sectors in December 2015 as it sought to gain insight into advertisers' understanding, use and opinions of mobile advertising.

Programmatic advertising on mobile is one of the least understood mobile topics, it reported, with 44% of respondents reporting having no or little knowledge of it.

Set against that, nearly 3 in 10 (29%) respondents felt they had an "excellent" understanding of mobile advertising as a whole compared to 22% who said they had a "poor" level of understanding.

But even if marketers' grasp of the details of mobile advertising and programmatic were sometimes shaky, few doubted its growing importance.

Some 79% of respondents said that mobile advertising is an important part of their organisation's overall advertising strategy. The study also revealed that mobile spend in the next 24 months is expected to increase, even though a lack of budget at the moment remains a top challenge for nearly one in three respondents.

As well as budgets, difficulties in tracking and restraints on creativity were highlighted as barriers hindering usage of mobile advertising.

Looking to the technical future, two thirds regarded location-based advertising as an exciting mobile opportunity, while 52% saw prospects for wearable technology is an excellent opportunity for the industry and more than half intended to start advertising on wearables in the next 12 months.

"It's great to see just how far mobile has come in a relatively short amount of time and it's even more exciting to see mobile on the agenda for so many advertisers in the UK," said Mike Reynolds, IAB's Mobile Manager.

He added that while the results showed programmatic had established itself as an effective way of buying mobile media, "there is a clear disconnect between this buying technique and knowledge levels".

"Strengthening this knowledge base across the industry remains a top priority of ours for 2016," he stated.

Data sourced from IAB UK; additional content by Warc staff