EU digital adspend soars but GDPR threat looms large

mobile.newDigital advertising may still have a job to do to prove its effectiveness – and its compliance with GDPR – but brands are continuing their lemming-like stampede into the market, with the latest figures showing the European sector grew 13.9% last year to €55.1bn (£49bn), the fastest growth rate since 2011.
According to IAB Europe’s AdEx Benchmark, the UK – with a spend of €18.4bn (£16.4bn) – is by far the biggest market, nearly two-and-a-half times the size of second placed Germany on €7.2bn. They are followed by France, €5.2bn, Russia €4.1bn, Italy €2.9bn, the Netherlands €2.2bn, Spain €2.2bn, Sweden €2.1bn, Switzerland€2bn, and Norway €1.1bn.
In 2018, the top five largest growth markets all came from Central and Eastern European countries, with Ukraine up 26.9%, Russia 24.9%, Belarus 23.6%, Czech Republic 20.9% and Serbia 20.1%.
Overall, the European digital ad market more than double in size since 2012, with last year’s growth driven by a surge in video, mobile and social spend.
Out-stream video and mobile both dominated results in 2018, as they both grew in all 28 markets in the study. Out-stream grew by 44.7% on average, compared to in-stream at 19.7%. Overall, video grew by 30.9%, to €7.6bn, accounting for 33% of the display market.
Search remains the largest online advertising category in terms of revenue with a growth of 12.5% and a market value of €25bn.
Social is fuelling display growth across Europe, growing 33.7% year-on-year and now accounts for 49% of display.
Total mobile ad spend grew by 31.4% in 2018, to €22.8bn, and now accounts for 41% of all digital ad spend across the contintent.
IAB Europe chief executive Townsend Feehan said: “It is encouraging to see such healthy, double-digit growth across the entire region, driven largely by mobile and video. The digital advertising industry now contributes €55bn towards European Gross Domestic Product and is adding value to both mature and emerging markets.”
However, Feehan warned that with GDPR making users more aware of their choices about how their data is processed, “it is important that we focus on delivering privacy-first ad experiences that protect consumers and support Europe’s digital economy”.
Last week, German privacy group Liberties became the latest organisation to lodge complaints with regulators across the EU about online behavioural advertising platforms.
Launching the group’s #StopSpyingOnUs campaign, Liberties legal expert Eva Simon said: “We all know that the online advertising ecosystem relies heavily on our personal data. We all know that we get free content and free services online that are in fact far from free. We are paying for it with our most precious asset: our personal information.”
The move followed confirmation from the Irish privacy regulator that it had launched a statutory inquiry into whether Google’s real-time bidding systems are in breach of GDPR.
According to IHS Market, 86% of programmatic advertising uses behavioural data, with the global market estimated to be worth $273bn (£216bn).

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