Commentary

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.

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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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