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UK Programmatic Digital Display Ad Spending

Growth Underpinned by Social Spend and Programmatic Direct

Programmatic Digital Display Ad Spending

Ad Spending and Industry Trends Through 2021 for Canada, China, France, Germany, the UK and the US

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About This Report
Programmatic ad spending will account for 90.0% of total UK digital display ad spend this year, or £5.81 billion ($7.75 billion). Of that proportion, programmatic direct will make up 65.5%, with social media spend underpinning that figure.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The UK is a world-leading proponent of programmatic ad trading. Growth in automation will continue, but for such a developed market, an inevitable ceiling is being reached.

How big is the programmatic ad market in the UK?

Programmatic is the rule rather than the exception in the UK, and has been for some time. Nine in 10 digital display ad pounds will be spent programmatically this year, and that proportion will continue to increase throughout our forecast. Growth is slowing, though, and some inventory will always be traded traditionally.

Which transaction method will dominate?

Brands and publishers increasingly favor safety and control in the automated advertising space, particularly in the aftermath of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Private marketplaces (PMPs) and programmatic direct deals have thus grown faster than open market trading. However, programmatic direct continues to take the lion’s share of the overall market—65.5% this year, growing to 68.6% by 2021. Social media ad spend has underpinned this growth, given that it’s almost exclusively traded via direct means.

How have mobile and video trends impacted the programmatic market?

Mobile dominates the programmatic space, accounting for 80.6% of total spend. And given social media’s increasing influence in mobile, it’s little surprise to see programmatic direct make up 71.7% of total mobile programmatic display ad spending. Video is the other big growth driver, as more and more inventory trading is now automated.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report presents our updated forecast for UK programmatic digital display ad spending through 2021. It provides context for how the programmatic market is growing across transaction types, formats and devices.

KEY STAT: This year, 90.0% of digital display ad spending will be transacted programmatically, with spend totaling £5.81 billion ($7.74 billion).

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. Programmatic Ad Spending Outlook
  3. Programmatic Direct
  4. Real-Time Bidding
  1. Mobile Programmatic Ad Spending
  2. Programmatic Video Ad Spending
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Andrew Buckman
Interviewed July 18, 2019
Geisla de Souza
Vice President, Paid Media
Interviewed August 12, 2019
Marc Grabowski
Executive Vice President, Global Supply and Business Development
Interviewed August 16, 2019
Simon Harris
Head of Sales, EMEA
Interviewed August 20, 2019
Damien Hodge
UK Commercial Director
Interviewed August 5, 2019
Jeff Meglio
Vice President, Global Demand and Agency Partnerships
Interviewed July 30, 2019
John Nardone
Interviewed August 14, 2019
Clementina Piazza
Integral Ad Science
Programmatic Director, EMEA
Interviewed August 23, 2019
Giovanni Strocchi
Interviewed October 14, 2019


Bill Fisher


Lauren Fisher
Principal Analyst
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Shelleen Shum
Senior Director, Forecasting
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