Strongest European digital ad growth in 13 years

European digital advertising grew by 30.5% in 2021, the strongest since 2008. All 28 markets covered by a study saw double-digit growth. Seven markets exceeded the average growth rate of 30.5%, with a mix of Western and Central and Eastern European countries, IAB AdEx Benchmark Report shows. The highlights were released earlier, but the full report has now been released.

Main conclusions

  • Digital ad spend in Europe grew 30.5% to €92 billion in 2021. This is the strongest year-over-year growth since 2008.
  • The €21.5 billion net increase in expenditure compared to 2020 is greater than the total net increase from 2018 to 2020 (€19.4 billion) combined.
  • Turkey was the fastest growing country for the second consecutive year with a growth rate of 99.7% in 2021, followed by Ukraine. Both countries also had the highest inflation rates in this study, which, along with a buoyant underlying market, contributed to their strong growth.
  • Seven markets exceeded the average growth rate of 30.5%, with a mix of Western and Central and Eastern European countries: Turkey, Ukraine, UK, Austria, Spain, Slovakia, Netherlands
  • All countries recorded double digital growth, with 16 countries showing growth between 20% and 28%.
  • Digital ad spend per capita averaged €115, with the UK (€481) and Norway (€330) leading.
  • By country, growth in 2021 correlates with a market’s resilience during the Covid-19-induced market downturn in 2020. Spain, for example, saw strong growth in 2021 after a decline in 2020 under the effect of the economic impact of Covid-19. Conversely, Germany, which showed resilience in 2020 with a digital advertising market above the European average, experienced below-average growth in 2021. The combined two-year growth rate of 2019 to 2021 is therefore a more accurate representation of the true growth of the digital advertising market.

“All aspects of digital advertising have benefited from the 2021 windfall, but most notably formats and approaches that enable small and medium-sized businesses, e-commerce related advertising, video-based storytelling and formats that provide access to new consumption behaviors on a large scale, such as audio and games,” explains Daniel Knapp, chief economist of the organization.

“Although market growth in 2021 was heavily concentrated in the mid-1920s for most countries, European digital advertising markets are heterogeneous with a wide range of per capita advertising spend allocations, even across markets of similar economic power. This indicates that significant room for growth remains available. »

Main results – Formats

  • Growth in 2021 was robust across all formats. Display ads (including banner, video and audio) were the best performers (+34.5%), followed by paid search (+29.9%) and classifieds, directories and affiliates (+11.3). %).
  • Display increased its share of formats to 49.6% of all digital ad spend, with many markets reporting a display share of over 50%.
  • Social media (+42.2%) was a key driver of display growth, with non-social display ads up 27.5%. Social media accounted for over 25% of total digital ad spend in 2021 and over 50% of display ad spend.
  • Video was also a growth driver (+46.2%), both within and outside of social. Video now accounts for 41% of all display ad spend.
  • Paid search rebounded strongly after growth of 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 €700 million in 2021, or 3% of display spend.
  • After a 9.1% drop in 2020, the Classifieds, Directories and Affiliates segment is recovering and growing by +11.3%. The segment’s overall share of digital ad spend fell to 7.5% as growth lagged other formats.

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