IAB/PwC: Digital advertising continues double-digit growth trajectory

Q1 2021 figures show digital advertising spend up more than 25 per cent year-on-year as sectors such as travel and automotive start to recover and retail soars

Australia’s digital advertising market has continued its double-digit growth trajectory, recording a 25.8 per cent increase in the first quarter of 2021 compared to a year ago.

In a sign of the further recovery of the advertising trade, the latest Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia and PwC Online Advertising Expenditure Report shows total digital advertising spend hit $2.883 billion for the three months to 31 March 2021, up from $2.291 billion for the same quarter in 2020.

This comes after a robust Q4, 2020, which saw total digital advertising spend reach $2.9 billion.

Retail advertising was found to be a particularly strong performer across the quarter, up 16.4 per cent year-on-year. According to the report, while retail advertising has held a record share of display advertising investment for the last two quarters, it continues to grow and accounted for 16.4 per cent of total display investment. Retail also led video advertising spend overall. 

Finance as a category was also up 9.3 per cent year-on-year, and increased real estate spend also saw the sector join the top five industries in Q1, 2021. By contrast, automotive advertising was down 12.5 per cent year-on-year and technology was down 2.4 per cent.  

Against this, the IAB/PwC noted advertising in the travel sector has begun its recovery thanks to the boom in domestic tourism, with both travel and automotive advertising slightly up in comparison to the latter half of 2020.

All categories of digital advertising reported double-digit growth in Q1, 2021, with search and directories lifting 26.5 per cent, general display increasing by 28.9 per cent and classifieds rising by 28.5 per cent.

Video proved a stellar growth channel once more, growing 32 per cent year-on-year. Within general display, video represented the lion’s share at 54 per cent growth compared followed by infeed/native (31 per cent) and standard display (14 per cent).

However, total video advertising expenditure fell slightly to $572 million in the March quarter following record spend of $645m in the December 2020 quarter. The report also noted programmatic trading of video inventory increased in the March quarter, peaking at 61 per cent of total expenditure versus 34 per cent bought through agencies.

“Digital advertising continues apace and we’re seeing a diversification of that spend into a broader range of opportunities across different digital offerings,” commented IAB Australia CEO, Gai Le Roy. “There’s no doubt the Australian market is bouncing back but there’s still plenty of room for further growth, with expectations that as borders reopen and supply chains improve, both the travel and automotive categories will increase investment in digital advertising.”

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