Study Shows That 75% of Global Internet Access Will Be From Mobile This Year

Spain tops Hong Kong and China as biggest adopters

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With high internet speed and smartphone ownership, it's easy to imagine that Asian countries would dominate global mobile usage, but a new report from Zenith finds that Spain may actually be the world's most most plugged-in country.

In Zenith's new Mobile Advertising Forecast report, the media-buying agency expects 85 percent of Spain's total internet usage to come from smartphones this year. Hong Kong was No. 2 on the list at 79 percent, while 76 percent of China's internet access is from mobile. The U.S. follows with 74 percent, and Italy and India each have 73 percent mobile usage.

Overall, Zenith's report tracked patterns in 60 countries and expects 75 percent of internet access globally to be from mobile this year, up from 40 percent in 2012.

Spain's lead may not last long, however. According to the report, Hong Kong will have 89 percent mobile adoption by 2018. China, meanwhile, will have 87 percent adoption followed by Spain at 86 percent. And 83 percent of internet access in the U.S. and Italy will be from mobile by 2018. Also by 2018, 79 percent of all internet traffic will come from mobile.

The jump, of course, is attributable to greater smartphone ownership. Currently, 56 percent of people have smartphones. That number was just 23 percent in 2012. In terms of a country-by-country breakdown, 92 percent of people in Ireland and 91 percent of those in Singapore own smartphones in 2016.

Per Zenith's estimates, 63 percent of consumers in the 60 countries analyzed will own smartphones by 2018. Ireland will remain the biggest mobile-using country, with 94 percent adoption, while Switzerland and Singapore are expected to reach a 92 percent adoption rate.

When it comes to ad spending, mobile will make up 60 percent of internet advertising by 2018—equivalent to $134 billion—up from 52 percent this year. That figure is greater than the total amount advertisers are expected to spend on newspaper, magazine, cinema and outdoor advertising combined in 2018.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.