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Programmatic Ad Spending in the UK 2019

Strong and Stable Growth, Despite Economic Uncertainties

About This Report
Our latest UK programmatic ad spend forecast indicates that strong growth remains, despite economic and privacy-related concerns. This year, 87% of all digital display ad spend will flow through programmatic pipes, and that will rise to 89% by 2020.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Nearly nine in 10 digital display ad dollars will be spent on programmatic inventory in the UK this year. Despite uncertainties around the effects of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Brexit, programmatic’s march continues unabated.

How big will the programmatic ad market get in the UK?

In a word, huge—nearly £6 billion ($7.59 billion) huge this year. Such is the prevalence of transacting digital display ad spending this way that by 2020, almost 90% of display spending will be accounted for by programmatic.

How much programmatic spending is direct vs. open market in the UK?

A desire for greater control over programmatic spend has led to a further skew toward programmatic direct and private marketplace (PMP) trades. Open exchanges will persist and register growth, but not as quickly as these more controlled environments. Indeed, in 2020, we’ll see PMP spend overtake open exchange spend for the first time.

What do the UK trends look like for mobile and video programmatic spending?

These areas are the two key growth drivers for programmatic. Mobile will account for 80.0% of programmatic digital display ad spending this year, up 22.5% over 2018. Video, meanwhile, will account for 43.4% of total programmatic display ad spend this year, up 33.7% from last year and double its proportion in 2016.

Has GDPR impacted programmatic ad spending?

There was a slight dip in the UK when GDPR came into effect in May 2018, but activity levels soon returned. This isn’t to say that further effects won’t be felt as legislative interpretation improves, but the immediate outlook remains rosy.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our updated estimates for programmatic digital display ad spending in the UK, with breakouts for mobile spend by transaction type and video. It also examines how and why the market has developed.

KEY STAT: Strong double-digit growth in programmatic digital display ad spending will persist through 2020 at least, when nearly £7 billion ($9.07 billion) will flow through programmatic pipes. This will represent 88.9% of all UK digital display ad spending.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

10expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Programmatic Ad Spending in the UK: eMarketer’s Estimates and Forecasts
  3. Behind the Numbers: What’s Fueling Market Movements?
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. Insider Intelligence Interviews
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Chris Bennett
Managing Director, Europe
Interviewed November 1, 2018
Thomas Bremond
FreeWheel, a Comcast Company
General Manager, International
Interviewed November 1, 2018
Nigel Gilbert
Chief Market Strategist, EMEA
Interviewed December 1, 2018
Matt Harada
General Manager, Data
Interviewed November 2, 2018
Dan Larden
Infectious Media
Global Strategic Partnerships Director
Interviewed November 21, 2018
Emma Newman
Vice President, UK
Interviewed October 30, 2018
Clementina Piazza
Integral Ad Science
Programmatic Director, EMEA
Interviewed November 2, 2018
David Shaw
Snap Inc.
International Lead, Product Marketing
Interviewed November 20, 2018
Conno Christou
Vice President, Glispa Connect
Interviewed October 31, 2018
Ryan Cook
Vice President, Programmatic and Business Development, EMEA
Interviewed October 24, 2018


Bill Fisher


Jennifer Jhun
Research Director, International and Special Projects
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Showmik Podder
Forecasting Analyst
Shelleen Shum
Director, Forecasting
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