IAB H1 UK digital ad spend figures: industry reaction

David Murphy
Video has driven H1 digital ad spend growth

This morning, the IAB revealed the UK digital ad spend figures for 2018. There are a couple of points to note, in addition to the headline 15 per cent year-on-year increase.

The first is that these figures are modelled (by PwC), as opposed to actual figures based on data collected from the industry. Going forward, the half-year figures will be modelled, the full-year figures, released in April, will be actual data collected from the industry.

The second is that, in these half-year figures, mobile is not broken out, so it’s impossible to assess its contribution to the overall numbers. Mobile will be broken out in the full-year figures.

Irrespective of all that, we reached out to the industry for their reaction to the news, which is largely, but not exclusively, positive…

Phil Stelter, managing director SYZYGY UK and chief media officer SYZYGY Group
“Another ad spend report, another opportunity for the industry to give a collective sigh of relief that marketing spend is continuing to rise. But our obsession with spend needs to end. Yes, digital spend grew 15 per cent, but if that spend is going on intrusive ads and unwanted retargeting, then you might as well be throwing your money down the drain.

“Just this week the IPA and ISBA revealed that 75 per cent of marketers and 73 per cent of agencies agree that short-term tactical needs often take priority over longer-term objectives, evidence that marketing is stuck in a rut and is not adapting to consumer behaviour. Increasingly, customer experience online begins with media. If that first impression is poor, then it will impact the rest of the customer journey. Brands have to work to align and integrate media activity with the overall customer experience.”

Mark Slade, CEO, Location Sciences
“It’s great to see that digital ad spend is continuing to grow, no doubt driven once again by mobile. This growth has continued even as the industry starts to face up to its responsibilities on issues like viewability and fraud. There’s no doubt, though, that this money could still be being spent more effectively. Other studies have shown that more than 42 per cent of mobile ad spend includes location data – over 50 per cent of which may be inaccurate. This is a problem that the industry is failing to tackle. We hope that by the time of the next half-year ad spend figures, less will be wasted on ads that aren’t reaching the places they’re supposed to.”

Justin Taylor, UK MD, Teads
“Since becoming the largest video ad format, outstream has gone from strength to strength. Investment in display is also encouraging – 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. 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.”

Eric Visser, CEO and founder, JustPremium
"The IAB Half Year Report indicates the strength and resilience of the UK market, despite the ongoing challenges it has faced around GDPR and Brexit. It’s remarkable to see that advertising has continued to flourish, reporting another six months of consistent growth.

“The positive figures were mainly driven by the increase in video spend, which saw an impressive year-on-year increase, and is now at £967m. Meanwhile, non-video display inventory accounted for £1.3bn, showing that video now accounts for over 40 per cent of all display advertising.

“This can be attributed to the change in how brands and publishers are choosing to interact with their consumers, with more creative formats reporting far better engagement rates. Over the next six months, we would expect to see investment in Rich Media Formats continue to grow.

"The main driving factors behind this growth are the increasing quality of online advertising in the UK, as well as the ability to accurately measure the impact of a campaign and report ROI, including viewability and in-view time.”

Paul Swaddle, founder, Pocket App
“What’s particularly interesting in this latest IAB PwC AdSpend report is the 40 per cent increase in video spend, the primary driver of growth during H1 2018. Video accounted for £967m all by itself, a vivid reminder of its power in digital, and especially on mobile. This doesn’t just apply to display ads, of course. Video can be a remarkable tool for communicating everything from instructions to sales information, helping move the consumer through the decision-making process and making the app experience that much more direct.”

Sabina Usher, communications strategist, MullenLowe Mediahub
“It’s another solid set of results for digital ad-spend, showing double-digit growth across all verticals. Video is the key driver of the 20 per cent increase across display and this is no surprise given the continued evolution in the channel to deliver rich content to a highly targeted consumer. We're continuing to see our client's investments increase across their digital footprint, as they seek greater measurement and accountability. Our challenge is to ensure the right blend of on and offline media for our clients to drive the greatest overall return.

Gary Danks, founder and MD, Machine
“A growing digital ad market is good for everyone. Unfortunately, that also includes the bad actors who leech from this industry – that 15 per cent year-on-year growth only means a bigger pot for fraudsters. The industry has started to get a handle on some types of ad fraud, but there are others – like app install fraud, which Machine combats for advertisers – which are still largely unknown and still require education.

"Consider how much of this £6.4bn actually went on inventory that produced real results, and how much was diverted – via means like attribution theft – into the pockets of fraudulent players. The second number is almost certainly larger than you think.”

Wesley MacLaggan SVP marketing at Marin Software
“Whilst Google continues to grow its Search revenues, the real story is the growing influence of Amazon. Globally it 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. 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. 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.

“Of course, another ad platform to manage means extra time and cost investment from marketers. Marketers who can master the efficient use of Amazon – and understand the interplay with Google and Facebook – will thrive.”