At the end of 2015, there were 3.4 billion smartphones in use, 1.2 billion more than a year earlier. It was also the year that mobile hit a huge milestone, picking up more than half of digital adspend for the first time.

Despite this, data shows that advertisers are not yet clear on how to maximise effectivity on mobile. It makes for worrying reading.

In 2015, just 4% of mobile programmatic used the most effective ad size. While full screen tablet ads (1024x768) are the most effective at driving clicks, this ad size was employed by just 4% of mobile programmatic campaigns, according to figures from self-serve mobile programmatic platform, PocketMath.

Half of the campaigns used full screen smartphone ads (480x320). It was found that ‘family internet’ campaigns used full screen tablet ads the most. For landscape full screen tablet ads, the click-through rate rises to 8.4%, with portrait orientation coming in a close second at 6%.

The research reveals a new “race for space” as brands compete to capture audiences’ attention on large-screen mobile devices.

The most popular size of all is the landscape full screen smartphone ad (480x320), which accounts for 50% of mobile programmatic campaigns and yet is half as effective at driving clicks as the landscape tablet size.

Andrew Alcock, Chief Product Officer at PocketMath, says: "Our data shows a high level of demand for smaller mobile screens, despite how difficult it is to engage with an audience on such a small format.

"Large-screen devices, like tablets, give advertisers more space to get creative than smaller screens, and are typically used in a more relaxed environment – rather than "on the go" with one eye on the pavement,” he continues.

"Of course, this is anything but a single-platform game and advertisers must use the right mix of ad sizes and plan their creatives accordingly," Mr Alcock adds.

Last year, 80% of publishers, 81% of agencies and 82% of marketers executed digital ads programmatically, according to research by Undertone. Furthermore, a study conducted by eMarketer in October 2015 found that mobile programmatic display ad spend is set to eclipse desktop as consumers' mobile usage grows.

When analysing campaigns across different categories, the most active users of full screen tablet ads (landscape and portrait) are Family Internet (21%), Television (15%) and Cruises (12%).

Mr Alcock continues: "It is surprising to see how few campaigns are targeting large-screen devices, given their ubiquity and the obvious benefits for advertisers.

"This could be as much about supply as it is about demand, if publishers are struggling to convince campaign planners to try something new." 

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