IAB and PwC Online Ad Spend Study 2021

Feature image of the Online Ad Spend report.
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A summary of key statistics and findings from the study by Sing!

Sing! recently participated in a recent study from IAB Ireland and PwC. The report “Online Ad Spend Study 2021” provides helpful insights to consumers and agencies alike. This study includes data from over 20 leading publishers as well as 2 sales houses and ad networks and 6 of the main digital and media buying advertising agencies.

Executive Summary

  • Total Digital Ad Spend has grown by 27% in 2021 from €655m to €830m
  • Eight in ten (80%) internet users now buy goods or services online (83% female, 75% male)
  • Display has grown to account for 60% of all digital ad spend with €498 million
  • Strong growth across most sectors, with the two largest industry categories, retail and automobile, growing at a rate of 13% and 23% respectively
  • Growth in social media, video and programmatic ad buying were key trends in 2021
  • Digital budgets are expected to keep growing in the year 2022 by at least 15%. This is mostly due to the growth of business digitization
  • Smartphone penetration is 94%, with 61% now owning a smart TV in 2021, compared to 49% in 2019
Graph of Historic Online Ad Spend

Screenshot from IAB and PwC Online Ad Spend Report 2021

Digital Consumer Behaviour

  • The most popular online purchases were clothes, shoes or accessories
  • 70% of internet users used social networking, with this figure rising to 89% for 16 to 29 year olds
  • Instant messaging (via platforms such as Skype, Messenger, Whatsapp, Viber, etc.) was reported by 84% of internet users

New Technologies Thriving

  • Smartphone penetration is 94%, with 61% now owning a smart TV in 2021, compared to 49% in 2019
  • Wearables have also seen a significant increase – 24% of respondents have a smart watch, up from 16% in 2020
  • Voice assisted speakers are up to 28% in 2021 compared to 7% in 2018
  • 74% have access to VoD services, up from 63% in 2020

The Digital Media Mix

  • Display has grown to account for 60% of all digital ad spend with €498 million
  • Display ads have seen its strongest average annual growth in recent years at 40% YoY, compared to 10% YoY for search and 15% for YoY classified
  • The second largest digital media ad spend platform was search with 35% or €288 million
  • Paid Social increased by 41% YoY to €375 million while non-social display also saw growth at 28%
  • Non-social display grew by 28% in 2021 and is 14% higher than 2019 (pre-pandemic)
  • Video saw the highest level of ad spend growth with a 53% increase on YoY from €166m to €245 in 2020
  • Programmatic advertising continued its strong trajectory as its share of total ad spend grows by 42% since 2020
  • Digital Audio is the fastest growing digital display ad format and has grown from €4M to €11M in a year
Graph of Online Ad Spend by digital Media mix

Image Credit: IAB and PwC Online Ad Spend Report 2021

Detailed Digital Media Mix Graph

Image Credit: IAB and PwC Online Ad Spend Report 2021

Digital Ad Spend By Device

  • In 2021 the gross online ad spend was €830m with 78% of the spend going towards mobile
  • Mobile ad-spend is driving digital ad growth with a 35% increase in 2021
  • Mobile ad-spend has grown strongly over the last 5 years (+171%) while desktop has declined slightly
  • Ad-spend on desktop only grew for by 2% year on year to €179m in 2021
Graph of Digital Ad Spend for Mobile and Desktop

Image Credit: IAB and PwC Online Ad Spend Report 2021

Display Spend by Industry Category

  • There has been strong ad-spend growth across most sectors.
  • The two largest industry categories, retail and automobile, grew at a rate of 13% and 23% respectively. Retail accounts for 11% of total ad-spend whereas Auto accounts for 10%.
  • Finance accounts for 8% with Property and Recruitment also at 8%
  • FMCG ranks fifth in terms of ad-spend at 7% experiencing the fastest year on year growth rate of all categories at 32%
Graph of Display by Industry Category

Image Credit: IAB and PwC Online Ad Spend Report 2021

The Outlook for the Industry

  • Digital budgets are expected to keep growing in the year 2022 by at least 15%. This is mostly due to the growth of business digitization
  • Audio and Video advertising continue to be significant opportunities in the market, therefore the current growth trends will likely continue
  • Online video platforms are increasing in popularity due to the cost of inflation associated with TV
  • Native advertising remains an opportunity despite an 11% decline in these revenues in 2021, which is mostly likely a result of the pandemic
  • Many participants have identified staff recruitment and/or retention as a significant challenge, while post-third party cookie preparations, increasing digital regulation and brand safety issues have been cited as substantial challenges
  • Market conditions post Covid-19 are also an industry concern

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