Prexit Or Pretext: Is Europe Leaving Or Entering Programmatic?

I’ve been following my colleague Sean Hargrave’s take on a European backlash to programmatic for some time now, so I figured today’s release of IAB Europe’s annual digital ad spending report would be a good occasion to weigh in. That, plus this is my first RTBlog filling in for RTD Editor Tobi Elkin, who is on vacation. And from what I can tell, if there is a European exodus from programmatic, it may just be a British one.

But first today’s news. According to the 10th annual benchmark report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe, the continent’s digital advertising business continues to soar -- but it is is soaring more in some markets than others. While this may have more to do with market saturation, and the fact that its biggest market -- the U.K. -- also happens to be its most mature, I think some of the accelerated growth in other markets may have to do with an entrance, not an exit, from programmatic markets.



Overall, the report finds that Europe’s digital marketplace expanded 13.0% to $40.23 billion, making it Europe’s dominant media channel, and surpassing TV for the first time ever.

While the U.K. did have respectable growth in the past year -- expanding its digital ad marketplace by 16.9% -- it failed to make the top 10 growth ranking in 2015, which includes:

Top 10 Rankings – year-on-year growth

  1. Ireland - 29.0%

  2. Bulgaria - 22.3%

  3. Poland - 21.8%

  4. Slovenia – 21.6%

  5. Slovakia – 20.4%

  6. Sweden – 20.0%

  7. Turkey – 19.7%

  8. Switzerland – 18.7%

  9. Croatia – 18.2%

  10. Spain – 18.0%

I can’t say for sure if the other nations are expanding faster because of their programmatic policies, but looking at IAB Europe’s recent “Attitudes Toward Programmatic Advertising Report,” I can find no evidence to support Hargrave’s dour predictions for the programmatic marketplace in Europe.

While the report does not single out the sentiment of any particular European nation -- only stakeholders like advertisers, agencies and publishers -- the overwhelming majority are bullish about investing and trading digital media programmatically. According to that report, only 13% of advertisers, 8% of publishers and 7% of agencies on the Continent said they do not trade programmatically. And the overall take of the report was pretty optimistic for programmatic, citing increased efficiency, effectiveness and transparency.
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