MILAN: Digital advertising expenditure in Europe has doubled over the past five years, according to new data from IAB Europe, whose CEO has warned that the industry is at a crossroads.

The annual AdEx Benchmark study, released yesterday at the IAB Europe Interact conference in Milan, showed digital advertising grew 13.2% in 2017 to €48bn, with 20 of the 27 markets covered growing in double-digits.

The UK (€15.6bn), Germany (€6.6bn) and France (€5.1bn) were the largest markets but the fastest growing ones were all in central and eastern Europe, including Belarus (+33.9%), Serbia (+23.7%) and Russia (+21.9%) – the last of these now the fourth largest market overall at €3.3bn.

There was also strong growth in the most mature markets (in line with or above the European average) such as the UK (14.3%), Norway (16.6%), Sweden (18.4%), Switzerland (12.5%) and Denmark (9.7%) – evidence that maturity doesn’t hinder opportunity for further innovation and growth, the study noted.

Mobile dominated with double-digit growth in all 27 markets in the study. Mobile display grew by more than 40% and now accounts for 42% of total display advertising whilst video now accounts for more than a quarter of total display.

Social grew at a similar rate at 38% and increased its share of display whilst video grew by four times the rate of non-video display at 35%. The growth in video is being driven by out-stream advertising which experienced a 73.4% growth compared with in-stream at 6.9%.

The AdEx Benchmark study divides the digital ad market into three categories – Display, Search and Classifieds and Directories – and reported that growth in these advertising formats has been underpinned by shifting uses in devices and changing consumption patterns.

Display advertising outperformed search and classifieds with a growth rate of 14.9% to a value of €19.3bn. Search, however, was still the largest online advertising category in terms of revenue with a growth of 14.4% and a market value of €21.9bn.

The industry can celebrate more than a decade of uninterrupted growth, but Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe, sounded a warning.

“With GDPR coming into force in just three days’ time we are at a crossroads for the industry and we must continue to improve user experiences as well as highlight the contribution that digital advertising makes to the European economy.”

Sourced from IAB Europe; additional content by WARC staff