UK digital ad spend overtakes all other media combined

The UK will reach a major milestone this year, as it is set to become the first country in the world where digital media will take a 50 per cent share of the over £16.2 billion spent on advertising overall, according to eMarketer’s latest media ad spending forecast.

Norway and China will follow close behind, with digital grabbing a 45.0 per cent and 43.6 per cent share, respectively, of ad spending in each country. However, the UK will retain its lead by this measure until 2018, when digital’s portion of total ad spending in China will become the largest worldwide.

Digital advertising is expected to grow by 12 per cent this year to £8.1billion, making the UK the first country in which £1 in every £2 will go on digital media. Globally digital ad spend accounts for just under 30 per cent of total ad spend.

The surge in digital ad spend is being fuelled by the explosion in popularity of portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. Within the overall digital category ad spend on mobile devices will rise 45 per cent this year to £3.3billion, making effective management of a range of different touch points crucial to successful ecommerce. This year alone, mobile will account for 20.1 per cent of total media spending in the UK, compared with 16.6 per cent for print. In 2016, mobile will surpass TV’s total, at 25.6 per cent of all spending vs. 24.1 per cent.

“Digital reaching the 50 per cent threshold in the UK is a significant moment for the ad industry,” said Bill Fisher, analyst at eMarketer. He continued, “Digital accounts for a 29.6 per cent share globally and just over 31 per cent in the US, for example. The UK ad market is notable for its aggressive embrace of online advertising and its rapid adoption of mobile advertising. Because so much TV and radio programming appears ad-free in the UK, the comparative spending on digital channels has always been high. This year, though, we’re set to see digital reach an inflection point.” The UK has been long the world leader in terms of the proportion digital advertising takes of total ad spend, but come 2018 it will be usurped by China. In 2018, 56.5 per cent of all ad spend in the UK will be on digital, and in China it will account for 57.2 per cent.

Digital ad spend percentage share of total advertising spend, by country, 2015.

1.  UK50 per cent
2. Norway 45 per cent
3. China 43.6 per cent
4. Australia 43.3 per cent
5. Denmark 43.1 per cent
6. Netherlands 35.4 per cent
7. Canada 34.3 per cent
8. US 31.3 per cent
9. Sweden 30.5 per cent
10. South Korea 28.4 per cent

Source: eMarketer