Here you can find information relating to the methodologies used for the three core types of data in WARC's Data section. Answers to more general queries are provided in the Data FAQs.
WARC has conducted an annual survey of global advertising expenditure since 1980, issuing questionnaires to monitoring organisations and/or industry bodies in each of the 96 markets included in WARC’s Adspend Database. A full list of WARC’s partners in this area can be found here.
The survey covers TV, internet, mobile, newspapers, magazines, radio, cinema and out of home adspend, though coverage varies by market. A full list of the media covered in each market is available here.
Advertising expenditure data are compiled by WARC’s partners using differing methodologies. For example, the French statistics are derived from a survey of advertisers; the UK data are collected via media survey, and the German data from advertising agencies. Many other countries use data compiled by monitoring organisations which use volume estimates multiplied by rate card values to derive expenditure estimates.
How advertising expenditure data are harmonised
Where possible, WARC publishes harmonised data (net of discounts, including press classified adspend and agency commission but excluding production costs) to give a more accurate, comparable picture of each country's ad market. The table below shows the markets for which advertising spend figures have been harmonised.
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Pan Arab
- Slovak Republic
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
The money spent by advertisers, across display, classified and search formats, can be split into five component parts:
- Tax: Not levied in every country covered by WARC’s global survey of advertising investment. Where it is applied, it is not always on the same part of the advertising industry.
- Production costs: The costs of producing the advertisement.
- Income to media: The money media owners charge for their advertising space or time.
- Agency commission: The advertisers’ payment to their advertising or media agency. This may be a fixed commission (i.e. a percentage of the total budget), a flat fee or some other form of remuneration.
- Rate card discounts: The amount of money that advertisers or agencies negotiate off the official price. The level of discounting varies from country to country and medium to medium.
Adspend data collection methods vary widely among WARC’s partners. However, all data can be split into the component parts listed above. These components can be used to produce data that are comparable across countries. Many countries supply data that fit WARC’s definition of advertising expenditure (that the data are net of discounts, including press classified adspend and agency commission but excluding production costs), but when data do not fit, they are harmonised.
Fig. 2 shows the harmonisation process. In this example, the raw adspend data include agency commission, income to media and production costs. Press classified is included but no separate figures are given and the data are based on card rates (i.e. they exclude any discounts). In order to make the data comparable, estimates from the source organisations are applied to produce a figure that includes and gives values to agency commission, media costs, press classified and production costs, and excludes discounts. From this total figure, the relevant components are taken to produce final, harmonised, comparable figures that conform to the WARC’s definition of advertising expenditure.
Internet advertising expenditure
The vast majority of internet advertising spend data are provided by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). These data already conform to WARC’s definitions and require no harmonisation prior to publication.
IAB data are split into three primary formats: search, display and online classified, and are defined in the following ways:
Search: advertising appearing on specific word requests on search engines, excluding SEO (fees paid to a 3rd party to improve website ranking in search engines).
Online classified: a fee paid by an advertiser to place an ad or listing around a specific vertical such as automotive, recruiting and real estate, regardless of the outcome of the ad (i.e., the fee is paid even if there is no ‘sale’)
Display: banners, buttons, skyscrapers, overlays, interstitials, and pop ups displayed on a website.
WARC also classifies online video as a display format, per IAB definitions. Online video advertising can be defined in numerous ways, though principally, these are:
- in-stream video advertising (pre-rolls, mid-rolls, post-rolls)
- in-stream banner overlays
- out-of-stream video advertising (e.g. self-play video on social network, not embedded in non-advertising video content)
- contextual video advertising (e.g. branded video players,
- contextual banner advertising sold against video content
The complete list of formats included in online display totals is as follows: online display advertising (as defined above), online video advertising (defined above), affiliate marketing, integrated content, newsletter advertising, interactive television, mobile display advertising, programmatic buying, real-time bidding, in-game advertising, tenancies, sponsorships, and social media.
WARC has partnered with GlobalWebIndex to provide media consumption data among 16–64 year-old internet users across a number of traditional and digital channels in 44 major markets, along with global and regional overviews. The channels monitored include both Linear and Online TV, Broadcast and Online Radio, Print and Online Press, Gaming and Social networking.
GlobalWebIndex conducts a quarterly survey of consumers, taking a uniform approach which enables accurate cross-market comparison. The panel is vetted and squared against national demographic data to ensure it is representative. Panel sizes for each market can be found below.
GlobalWebIndex set quotas on age, gender and education to ensure its panel is representative. To set these quotas, research is drawn from a range of international and national sources. At a global level, these include the World Bank, the ITU, the International Labour Organization, the CIA Factbook and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics; within individual markets, data are typically sourced from national statistics sources, government departments, Eurostat or other credible and robust third-parties.
Where a market has a high internet penetration rate, its online population will be relatively similar to its total population, resulting in a good representation across all age, gender and education breaks. This is typically the case in North America, much of Europe and places in Asia-Pacific such as Japan and Australia.
Where a market has a medium to low internet penetration, its online population can be very different to its total population; broadly speaking, the lower the country’s overall internet penetration rate, the more likely it is that its internet users will be young, urban, affluent and educated. In some Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries (e.g. India, Indonesia), we would also expect a gender-based skew towards males.
During each wave of research, GlobalWebIndex assigns a “weight” to every respondent based on their age, gender and education profile. This allows for the calculation of approximately how many internet users are represented by their responses, listed below (in thousands):
Before they complete a GlobalWebIndex survey, all panelists will have undergone quality checks conducted by their panel. GlobalWebIndex then runs stringent testing both during and after the fieldwork to ensure a high-quality and robust sample. These include:
- Monitoring completion time
- Detecting ‘patterned’ answers
- Removing straight-line answers
- Detecting multiple ‘none-of-the-above’ answers
- Logic traps
Typically, between 5-15% of respondents are removed in the data-cleaning process. During the fieldwork, GlobalWebIndex over-recruits in each market to ensure that quarterly sample size commitments once any poor-quality responses have been identified and removed.
Media cost data are provided by the global media agency group, OMD. Data are collated from an annual survey of local offices in 62 markets, and cover the following media and target audiences:
Media covered: TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, out of home, cinema and internet.
Target audiences: adults, men, women, main shoppers, kids, young adults, upmarket adults and professionals.
The costs shown are after the deduction of negotiated discounts, but before the deduction of agency commission. The cost per hundred GRP (Gross Rating Point) figures have been calculated by multiplying the cost per thousand figures by the relevant universe (population). Full details of the methodology used in each market can be found here. The conversions from local currency to US$ have been carried out using annual average exchange rates from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the year.
While the purpose of the survey is to standardise and summarise costs in a format that allows for cross market comparison, the formats and calculation methodologies can vary between market. A list of format definitions for media costs can be found here. Media coverage and start years also vary by market, as shown here.