IAB: mobile and video drive spectacular UK digital growth

UK Digital adspend saw huge year-on-year growth in the first half of 2021, according to IAB UK’s H1 Adspend update, released today. The data, produced with PwC, shows a half yearly spend of £10.5bn, which is up 49% vs H1 2020 and 42% vs H1 2019 – the last comparable period that did not include lockdown measures.

This growth – the biggest ever increase since the IAB started recording spend bi-annually – came as businesses and advertisers coped better the third national lockdown, introduced in January 2021. With ecommerce flourishing, production logistics back on track and a roadmap out of lockdown in place, including the roll out of the UK’s vaccine programme, digital ad spend saw record rates of recovery in H1 2021.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence continued to grow as people of all ages adapted to a digital-led lifestyle. According to UKOM-endorsed data from Ipsos, the online population in the UK has increased 6% since the start of the pandemic – with the over-75s providing the biggest increases at 43%.

Search remains the single biggest digital channel – up 49% year-on-year to £5.5bn – with display up 55%. Within display video, rose 70% year-on-year to £2.3bn – an increase of 79% on 2019. There was also a 75% year-on-year increase in mobile ad spend – 64% share of the total.

IAB UK CEO Jon Mew says: “The pandemic forced businesses to either accelerate or improve their ecommerce offering to cater to a nation of housebound consumers – we saw three years of change take place in just three months. Advertisers in turn adopted a more digital-heavy strategy as it was the medium least impacted by lockdowns. Meanwhile, the surge in video spend runs parallel to an explosion in short form video content and a move from advertisers to harness this as a vehicle for effective brand building.”

Stephanie Claxton, Senior Manager PwC, says: “The results of the first six months of digital ad spend are really encouraging. Not only have we seen the growth we expected on 2020 but also 42% growth on 2019. This is testament to the breadth of offerings available to advertisers in digital and the critical roles they play.”

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