LONDON: Digital advertising expenditure in the UK hit a record £6.3bn in 2013, helped by a near doubling in mobile spend as advertisers sought to keep pace with increased ownership of smartphones and tablets.

According to the latest Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) Digital Adspend report, conducted by PwC, mobile advertising grew 93% to £1.03 billion in 2013 and accounted for 16% of all digital advertising spend.

It noted figures charting the inexorable rise of mobile devices in the UK: smartphones now account for 76% of handsets, while tablet ownership grew 63% in the year to February 2014. More than one in four British consumers owns a tablet and 57% of those describe it as their "go-to" device for surfing the web at home.

Advertisers have taken note as the IAB said tablet-dedicated advertising had grown over 400% to reach at least £34.4 million in 2013

But Tim Elkington, Director of Research & Strategy at the IAB, observed there was a lot of work to be done in this area. "Spend on ads designed specifically for tablets is growing fast but it's still a very small part of the pie – despite the increase in tablet ownership, and the crucial role they play in people's internet use at home," he said.

"The tablet has moved from the offices of early adopters to the nation's living rooms and advertisers should be following suit," he added.

Mobile devices were also central to the growth of social media advertising. Across digital overall, social media advertising grew 71% to £588.4 million, with mobile accounting for over one third (35%) of that total.

"Mobile is now more of a story-telling tool for advertisers rather than just an information device," said Dan Bunyan, Manager at PwC.

"Almost half of mobile ad spend is accounted for by TV's biggest advertiser categories – consumer goods and entertainment brands – which is testament to how important mobile has become for brands," he stated.

In terms of format, display advertising across the internet and mobile grew above the overall (15%) digital rate at 22% on a like-for-like basis to £1.86 billion. Paid-for search marketing increased 14% on a like-for-like basis to £3.49 billion, while classifieds were up 9% like to £886.5 million.

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff