UK programmatic ad spend to surpass £3bn in 2017

A new eMarketer report shows a rapid increase in programmatic advertising spend in the UK as it claims the industry is maturing.

How UK programmatic ad spend will rise over the next two years in £bn

By the end of 2017, UK advertisers will have spent £3.39bn on programmatic advertising, up 23.5% compared to last year, according to a new report from eMarketer.

Programmatic spend now represents 79% of all UK digital display ad spend, with this proportion expected to reach 84.5% by 2019. Predictably, mobile continues to be a major growth driver, accounting for 78% of total programmatic digital display ad spend in 2017 – this figure is forecast to climb to 86.5% by 2019.

By comparison, the programmatic numbers for desktop are on the decline. Just 22% of programmatic ad spend, or £743.8m, will be spent on desktop this year, and this figure is expected to fall 13.5% to £609.5m in two years’ time.

By 2019, the total UK spend on programmatic advertising is expected to more than doubled from £1.99bn in 2015 to a much larger £4.52bn. But despite programmatic’s meteoric rise, not everybody remains convinced.

Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson has linked the rise in programmatic with brand safety issues at the likes of YouTube. And speaking at this year’s Festival of Marketing, Lidl’s head of media Sam Gaunt said the marketing industry is “guilty of overselling programmatic”.

“For all the debate around fraud and viewability, the reality is programmatic is very expensive,” he said. “It’s a premium media. When you stack up the cost of it with traditional media and then weigh up the impacts, it can be hard to justify. You also have no idea where your advertising will end up.”

However, eMarketer’s senior analyst Bill Fisher insists the marketing industry is making positive strides to win back trust from advertisers. He concludes: “The programmatic ecosystem is growing because it’s maturing.

“This maturation is leading to better practices, better behaviour and better transparency. Making everybody in the chain accountable is the next step in cleaning up programmatic’s image further and helping spend rise further.”

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