Search accounts for half of digital ad spend in first half of 2018, finds IAB UK

Mark manages all aspects of editorial on MarketingTech as Editor, including reporting on the fast-paced world of digital marketing and curating the site’s network of expert industry contributions. Originally from Plymouth, Mark studied in Reading and London, eventually earning his Master's in Digital Journalism, and most previously covered goings-on in the idiosyncratic world of performance marketing for PerformanceIN.

Search accounted for half of all digital ad spend in the UK in the first half of 2018, according to the latest Digital Adspend report published by the IAB UK (Internet Advertising Bureau) and PwC.

In total, digital advertising saw a 15% year-on-year increase amounting to £6.36bn. Enjoying the same rate of growth, spend on search advertising amounted to more than half of that (52%), amounting to £3.3bn.

Non-video display spend was next highest at £1.33bn, a rise of 9% on last year’s figures. Meanwhile, video-display followed at £967m, a 40% uptick which made it the fastest-growing channel in the study.

Despite the growing convenience of platforms like eBay and Amazon Marketplace, classified ads remained at £726m, while ‘other’ remained at £41m.

On the general growth of digital ad spend, The IAB UK’s chief digital officer, Tim Elkington, said: “With mobile devices accounting for 75% of all UK adults’ time online, it is safe to assume smartphone penetration continues to contribute towards the 15% year-on-year growth in digital ad spend reported.”

The IAB did state, however, that the midway report is a lighter version of its annual, end-of-year drill-down. As such, the report did not contain results from each and every one of its members, although it added that trends will rarely alter dramatically in half-year increments.  

On the rise of search ad spend, Marin Software’s SVP marketing, Wesley MacLaggan, pointed not just to the ever-greater strength of Google, but the growing influence of Amazon.

“Globally [Amazon] reported $2.2bn in ad revenues in Q2, a drop in the ocean compared to Google, but far greater than others – like Snap – competing for ad spend,” said MacLaggan. “This is nudging up overall spend on Search, as evidenced by the IAB results, as well as nibbling into Google’s share of the pie.

“It’s easy to see why advertisers are flocking to Amazon – its Prime service is now used by a third of all UK shoppers,” he continued. “That’s a huge audience and it’s worth paying for prominence by serving sponsored product listings, which appear at the top of users’ product search results on Amazon.

MacLaggan added that while another ad platform to manage means extra time and cost investments, marketers that can master the efficient use of Amazon and understand the interplay with Google and Facebook “will thrive”.

“Investment in display is also encouraging,” added Teads’ UK MD, Justin Taylor. “[…] we’re seeing more innovations transform this static format, embracing phone features and hardware to create better user experiences, which will no doubt accelerate growth further.

“The results for video and display highlights the continued resurgence in demand for the brand-safe, quality content that online publishers provide, not just in the UK but globally,” Taylor added.

“For this to continue, we need to make sure quality publishers continue to have access to the best technology and formats that can generate revenue, whilst also providing the best possible user experience.”

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