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IAB Europe releases 2021 AdEx Benchmark Report to reveal digital advertising market size

IAB Europe, the leading European-level industry association for the digital advertising and marketing ecosystem, today released its full 2021 AdEx Benchmark Report following the release of the study highlights in May. The report is the definitive guide to advertising expenditure in Europe covering 28 markets. It details the formats and channels that contributed to digital advertising’s annual growth of 30.5 per cent in 2021, culminating in a total market value of €92bn.

Commenting on the positive market growth in 2021, Townsend Feehan, CEO, IAB Europe said:

“The past two years have been challenging for many and it is encouraging to be able to report such positive growth for our industry. This is a testament to the people, products and services that help steer and grow the digital advertising industry, even in the most exceptional circumstances.” 

Every market in the study experienced double-digit growth

All 28 markets covered in the study have 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.

The market recorded the highest growth rate since 2008

IAB Europe forecast a growth rate of 28.6% for 2021. The markets surged and exceeded expectations to achieve a growth rate of 30.5%, which is the highest growth recorded in the study since 2008. This equated to a total of €21.5bn added to the digital advertising market in 2021. 

Still headroom for growth

When looking at digital ad spend per head, some key markets still lag behind the European average of €115; Spain for example at €92 and Poland at €38. 

Video continued strong growth in 2021

Video was a key driver of growth both in and out of social spend. It grew by 46.2% and now accounts for 41% of all display ad spend. Video also now exceeds half of total display spend in three markets; Ukraine, UK and Italy. 

Digital Audio recorded the strongest percentage growth

In 2021 digital audio grew by 50.7%, higher than all other formats. The audio market continues to grow rapidly, from a low base, reaching €700m in 2021, or 3% of display spend. 

Programmatic now commands 57% of display ad spend 

Programmatic, excluding social, accounts for more than half of display ad spend driven by a move to private market places and adoption in CEE markets.  

Dr. Daniel Knapp, Chief Economist, IAB Europe, who compiled and presented the study commented:

“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. 

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.”


View and download the full report here.

IAB Europe is a client of Bluestripe Communications, a part of the Bluestripe Group, the publishers of New Digital Age

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