UK ad spend grew by 15.4% year-on-year in 2019, reaching £15.69bn, according to IAB UK’s adspend update.

IAB UK ad spend trends for 2019: Video and search ads drive growth

This level of market growth in 2019, particularly as Brexit negotiations rumbled on, shows advertisers’ confidence in the power of digital to deliver business results and it’s encouraging to see strong growth trends continue in areas such as smartphone, video display and social.

Conducted with PwC, the update shows that video display and search ads were the biggest drivers of growth. The data was taken from last year, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and acts as a definitive summary of the year’s ad spend.

Smartphone spend continued to be the key driver of growth, with video and social also making gains.

Smartphone ads accounted for 56% of all spend, 80% of video investment and 70% of display.

Video was the largest display format, making up 46% of overall display, and social spend was up 25% year-on-year to reach £3.59 billion.

Display investment in Gold Standard companies grew at more than twice the rate of non-certified companies (21 vs 9%), demonstrating that advertisers have continued to value the safety and quality that the Gold Standard offers.

Mark Inskip, CEO UK & Ireland, Kantar (Media Division), said: “Today’s report from the IAB demonstrates that overall it’s been a positive year for the online and mobile advertising market. It is encouraging to see that digital ad spend underwent such a strong period of growth in 2019 and it isn’t a surprise to see that this was driven predominantly by the smartphone market with a focus on video spend. However, as we look to a period of recession over the coming months, we are no doubt going to see a downturn in advertising spend as brands and marketers are forced to tighten their purse strings.

“According to Kantar’s COVID-19 barometer, only 8% of consumers around the world believe advertising should be stopped altogether during this time. This is an encouraging message for advertisers and one which should be harnessed appropriately – the brands who are able to continue using digital channels to serve useful, engaging and entertaining content to their audiences during these tough times will be the ones who come out on top. Accurately measuring and monitoring consumer reactions across platforms and adapting content to suit their needs and interests will only become an even more critical part of the jigsaw.”

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