Sales & Marketing

Britain is by far the biggest online advertising market in Europe

3 min read

15 July 2015

The UK is set to be the first ever country to break the 50 per cent threshold for digital advertising, compared to the global average of 30 per cent.

Back in January 2015, Real Business journalist Zen Terrelonge revealed that 92 per cent of senior decision makers in the UK planned to increase their spend on digital in the next three to five years. He later noted that £216m had gone to native advertising such as paid sponsorships, advertisement features and in-feed distribution – all in the first half of 2014.

The next two biggest markets to spend as much on digital advertising were France and Germany.

This was was echoed by the “AdEx Benchmark 2014” report by IHS Technology and the Internet Advertising Bureau, which claimed €8.9bn (£6.29bn) had been spent on the UK’s online advertising in 2014 overall. As was found in previous research, Germany and France were the next biggest spenders at €5.4bn (£3.82bn) and €3.7bn (£2.61), respectively.

Eleni Marouli, the senior advertising analyst at IHS Technology, said: “When we look at the European advertising sector as a whole, the UK is the trend setter. What is successful there trickles down to the rest of Europe.”

The UK is now set to become the first country in the world where half of all advertising spend goes to digital media. Just over £16.2bn will be spent on all forms of advertising, including TV, newspapers, billboards, radio, online and on mobiles and tablets, according to eMarketer.

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Digital advertising is expected to grow by 12 per cent this year to £8.1bn, making the UK the first country in which £1 in every £2 will go to digital media.

According to the research, the surge in digital advertising spend is being fuelled by the explosion in popularity of portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. Within the overall digital category, advertising spend on mobile devices will rise 45 per cent in 2015 to £3.3bn.

“Digital reaching the 50 per cent threshold in the UK is a significant moment for the advertising industry,” said Bill Fisher, analyst at eMarketer. “The UK advert market is notable for its aggressive embrace of online advertising and its rapid adoption of mobile advertising.”

He added that this is in part due to the BBC’s TV and radio services. “Because so much TV and radio programming appears ad-free in the UK the comparative spending on digital channels has always been high,” he said.

The UK may be the world leader in terms of the proportion digital advertising takes of total ad spend, but eMarketer claimed China will take over the title in 2018. It was estimated that in 2018, 56.5 per cent of all advertising spend in the UK will be on digital, while China’s would account for 57.2 per cent.