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Digital ads growing slow during pandemic

European digital ads growing slower than during financial crisis

European digital advertising growth last year was the slowest since 2006. The 2020 growth was 6.3% to be compared with av average growth of 19.5% from 2006 to 2019. During the financial crisis 2008/2009, digital advertising in Europe grew 8.9%.

The numbers are from IAB Europe´s annual report AdEx Benchmark that now is available in more detail compared to earlier released basic facts.

“Digital advertising did not have a bad year in 2020, only a bad quarter. We saw rapid recovery already setting in in Q3 before double-digit growth in Q4”, said Daniel Knapp, chief economist at IAB Europe.

“A strong reliance on performance channels during the height of lockdown was complemented with a fast redeployment of branding activity, in particular through digital video. The events of 2020 have fast-forwarded long-term socio-economic transformations that are altering how people consume and how companies operate. This provides a fertile ground for digital advertising, and we expect the sector to accelerate its growth in 2021.”

  • Turkey led growth with 34.8% vs 2019, followed by other CEE markets. The fastest growing Western European market was Germany, up 10.4%.
  • Digital’s share of all media advertising increased in all markets under study, often by mid-single percentage points, as other media channels suffered. Digital now commands more than 50% of all media ad spend in 13 out of 28 markets included in this study.
  • Digital Ad spend per capita was €87 on average, with UK (€338) and Sweden (€260) topping the list.

24 of 28 markets reported growth, 7 of them even double digit growth: Turkey 34.8%, Ukraine 23.5, Serbia 19.2, Czech Republic 14.8, Bulgaria 14.3, Romania 10.9 and Germany 10.4.

12 market´s digital ad spend per capita was over the EU average:

  • UK 338 euro
  • Sweden 260
  • Norway 245
  • Switzerland 217
  • Denmark 206
  • Ireland 148
  • Austria 144
  • Netherland 135
  • Germany 122
  • Czech Republik 112
  • Finland 99
  • France 91

Growth in 2020 varied by format: Display outperformed the market (+9.1%), followed by Paid-for Search (+7.8%). Classifieds, Directories and Affiliates declined (-9.1%).

Display was driven by video (+16.3%) and social (+16.5%). Excluding social, programmatic was a key growth driver (+8.3%) as non-programmatic spend declined (-2.7%).

Video now commands 39.4% of all display spend and exceeds 50% in 4 markets.

Digital Audio advertising is growing fast (+16.7%) from a small base. It is nascent in terms of market size with €500m spent across the markets under study, or 1.6% of all display spend.

Paid-for Search (+7.8%) growth lagged behind display, in particular due to its exposure to the travel sector, the maturity of the format and performance ads moving into display.

The Classifieds, Directories and Affiliates segment declined (-9.1%) as a weak job market and high consumer savings rate affected listings.

In terms of devices, growth came from mobile whereas desktop ad spend declined

More than two thirds of digital video ads is generated by five markets: UK is by far the biggest followed by Italy, Germany, France and Russia.



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