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UK Digital Ad Spending by Industry 2020

Pandemic Leads to Mixed Results as Retail Pulls Ahead and Travel Tanks

About This Report
The pandemic has greatly affected the distribution of digital ad spending across industries. The bottom fell out of the travel industry, as will ad spending in the sector, while retail will consolidate its dominant position in digital ad spend this year.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Digital ad spending in the UK will grow by 0.3% in 2020 to reach £15.08 billion ($19.25 billion). We consider how the pandemic will affect digital ad spending across the six largest industries we track in the UK: automotive, computing products and consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods (CPG), financial services, retail, and travel.

Which industries in the UK will spend the most—and the least—on digital ad channels in 2020?

Retail will pull ahead in 2020 to account for 20.0%, or £3.02 billion ($3.85 billion), of all digital ad spending. CPG will be a somewhat distant second, with a 13.5% share. At the other end of the scale, travel will see a massive 36.7% decline in digital spend this year and claim just 6.8% of total digital spend.

How has the pandemic affected spending across industries?

Other than travel and automotive, most industries have weathered the pandemic storm pretty well. Computing products and consumer electronics, for example, has actually grown as the pandemic forced consumers to work from home and entertain themselves indoors. Its digital ad spend growth will be faster in 2020 (14.3%) than it was in 2019 (13.2%).

Have device trends changed as a result of the pandemic?

Mobile continues to capture the lion’s share of digital ad spend, but its growth will be uneven across industries this year. For instance, in computing products and consumer electronics and financial services, ad spending growth for desktop will outstrip that of mobile. As employees begin returning to offices next year, though, the lean toward mobile spending will once again prevail.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest forecasts for digital ad spending in the six largest sectors we track in the UK and outlines key trends shaping these forecasts.

KEY STAT: Retail will be the biggest digital ad spender in the UK this year, accounting for one in five digital ad pounds. Travel will spend the least, accounting for just 6.8% of total digital 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.

9expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Overview of Our Digital Ad Spending Numbers by Industry
  3. Automotive Digital Ad Spending
  4. Computing Products and Consumer Electronics Digital Ad Spending
  5. CPG Digital Ad Spending
  1. Financial Services Digital Ad Spending
  2. Retail Digital Ad Spending
  3. Travel Digital Ad Spending
  4. Key Takeaways
  5. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Graham Alexander
Senior Marketing Director, UK and Netherlands
Interviewed June 29, 2020
Claire Burgess
NMPi by Incubeta
Head of Biddable
Interviewed June 26, 2020
Paul Frampton Calero
Control v Exposed
President, EMEA and APAC
Interviewed June 25, 2020
Emma Newman
Chief Revenue Officer, EMEA
Interviewed June 25, 2020
Jean-Christophe Peube
Smart AdServer
Global Head of Data Analytics and Marketplace Quality
Interviewed June 22, 2020
Richard Reeves
Association for Online Publishing
Managing Director
Interviewed June 19, 2020
Austin Scott
Head of Video Market Development, EMEA
Interviewed June 29, 2020
Paps Shaikh
Commercial Director, EMEA
Interviewed June 26, 2020
Gary Taylor
Deputy Managing Director
Interviewed June 23, 2020


Bill Fisher


Ethan Cramer-Flood
Forecasting Writer
Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Zach Goldner
Junior Forecasting Analyst
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