Media buyers are increasingly spending on mobile in-app environments, a new study from PubMatic and Forrester finds.

And, while buyers across the US, Europe and APAC tend to opt for programmatic buys over direct buys for in-app inventory, they cite targeting and the quality of inventory content as the leading criteria for choosing in-app publishing partners.

Consumers downloaded 197 billion apps in 2017, the study said, and that number is forecast to rise to 350 billion by 2021.

“Clearly, consumers’ use of app-rich mobile devices to access content and connect with friends and family is skyrocketing,” the report noted. “Furthermore, the share of online users who stream ad-supported content on a smartphone or tablet has trended upward over the past three years, while PC viewership is trending slightly downward.”

The study aimed to find whether advertisers had followed this trend, or been put off by inventory volumes and concerns about content quality control; they also wanted to find how organisations plan and buy programmatic in-app ads generally, and video in-app specifically.

Researchers carried out an online survey of 336 respondents and four interviews with media-buying and planning decision makers at brands, agencies, and technology providers in the US, Europe, and Singapore.

Key findings included: media dollars are increasingly being spent on mobile in-app and, not surprisingly, less on traditional channels like TV, in favour of digital media.

Larger shares of digital budgets are being spent on mobile in general and in-app specifically.

But measurement and issues around fraud remain a headache for advertisers, who look to publishers and technology for solutions.

The study concluded that, while media planning may have moved into the digital age, KPIs, for the most part, have not, with advertisers tending to stick to traditional and outmoded performance indicators, such as cost-per-click, and cost-per-acquisition.

Fear of fraud is widespread, especially among brands with the most to lose. As a result, advertisers say they want publishers and tech solutions to relieve them of responsibility by offering “trustworthy fraud and viewability verification”.

On average, buyers are spending just under two-thirds of ad budgets on digital, and, of this, the lion’s share goes on mobile – split evenly between in-app and web – or nearly half of all digital spending on average.

Sourced from PubMatic; additional content by WARC staff