Growth of European digital ads strongest in 13 years

Growth of European digital ads strongest in 13 years

European digital advertising’s grew 30.5% in 2021 which is the strongest since 2008. All 28 markets covered in a study recorded double-digit growth. Seven markets grew above the average growth rate of 30.5%, with a mix of countries from Western and Central & Eastern Europe, IAB’s AdEx Benchmark Report shows. Highlights have been released earlier but the full report has now been published.

Key findings

  • Digital ad spending in Europe grew by 30.5% to €92 billion in 2021. This is the strongest year-over-year growth since 2008.
  • The net increase of €21.5 billion in spend versus 2020 is larger than the total net increase from 2018 to 2020 (€19.4 billion) combined.
  • Turkey has been the fastest growing country for the second year in a row with a growth rate of 99.7% in 2021, followed by Ukraine. Both countries also had the highest inflation rates in this study, which in addition to an underlying dynamic market contributed to their high growth.
  • Seven markets grew above the average growth rate of 30.5%, with a mix of countries from Western and Central & Eastern Europe: Turkey, Ukraine, UK, Austria, Spain, Slovakia, Netherlands
  • All countries recorded double digital growth, with 16 countries growing in the narrow range between 20% and 28%.
  • Digital ad spend per capita averaged €115, with the UK (€481) and Norway (€330) leading the way.
  • By country growth in 2021 is correlated to a market’s resilience during the 2020 Covid-19 induced market slowdown. Spain, for example, achieved high growth in 2021 following a decline in 2020 driven by the economic impact of Covid-19. Conversely, Germany, which demonstrated resilience in 2020 with a digital ad market outperforming the European average, grew below average in 2021. The two-year combined growth rate from 2019 to 2021 therefore is a more accurate representation of true digital advertising market growth.

“All parts of digital advertising benefited from the 2021 bonanza, but most notably those formats and approaches that enable small and medium sized businesses, e-commerce related advertising, video-based storytelling and formats that provide access to new consumer behaviour at scale, such as audio and gaming”, says Daniel Knapp, the organisation’s chief economist.

Read Also:  Growth in digital advertising highest since 2006

“Although market growth in 2021 was tightly clustered in the mid-20ies for most countries, European digital ad markets are heterogeneous with a wide range of ad spend per capita allocations even in markets of similar economic power. This signals significant headroom for growth  remains available.”

Key findings – Formats

  • Growth in 2021 was robust across all formats. Display (incl. banner, video and audio) ads performed strongest (+34.5%), followed by paid-for search (+29.9%) and Classifieds, Directories and Affiliate (+11.3%).
  • Display increased its share of formats to 49.6% of all digital ad spend, with many markets exhibiting a display share of over 50%.
  • Social (+42.2%) was a key driver of display growth as non-social display ads grew by 27.5%. Social accounted for over 25% of total digital ad spend in 2021, and over 50% of display ad spend.
  • Video also was a growth engine (+46.2%), both within and outside social. Video now accounts for 41% of all display ad spend.
  • Paid-For Search rebounded sharply after growing 7.8% in 2020, returning to double-digit growth in 2021 (+29.9%). In three countries covered in this study, search accounts for more than 50% of digital ad spend.
  • Digital Audio recorded the strongest percentage growth in 2021 (+50.7%). The audio market continues to grow rapidly, from a low base, reaching €700m in 2021, or 3% of display spend.
  • After a 9.1% decline in 2020, the Classifieds, Directories and Affiliate segment recovered and grew by +11.3%. The segment’s overall share of digital ad spend has fallen to 7.5% as growth trailed other formats.



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