Irish digital advertising spend grew by 27% in 2021 — IAB Ireland-PwC Online Ad spend Study

14 April, 2022

  • Total digital ad spend was €830 million in 2021, reflecting growth of 27% from 2020
  • Online display advertising grew 40% to €498 million in 2021, with social and video cited as the primary drivers
  • Spend on display excluding social grew by 28% to €112 million in 2021
  • Search advertising grew by 10% to €288 million
  • Classified advertising grew by 15% to €43 million, retaining a 5% share of total online ad spend
  • IAB Ireland ad spend participants predict digital ad spend growth in 2022 of 15% on average
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Digital advertising spend in the Irish market for 2021 reached €830 million according to the latest results of the IAB-PwC Online Ad spend report, reflecting a growth rate of 27% year on year (YoY).

Display advertising grew by 40% to €498 million in 2021, driven by growth in social (41% YoY) and video (53% YoY). Display advertising holds a 60% share of the total Irish digital advertising market.

Search advertising grew by 10% YoY in 2021, with an ad spend of €288 million and a 35% share of the total Irish digital advertising market.

2021: Growth in digital consumption in Ireland

More Irish people spent time online and relied on digital services for both work and leisure activities in 2021 than ever before. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported that 70% of internet users were active on social networks and 84% used instant messaging platforms, including WhatsApp and Messenger. E-commerce also saw dramatic growth in 2021, with the CSO reporting that 80% of internet users purchased online.

Commenting on the study results, Suzanne McElligott, CEO of IAB Ireland, said, "2021 saw a dramatic take-off in e-commerce as businesses increasingly adopted digital channels to recruit, engage and serve consumers during the pandemic. The strong 27% digital ad spend growth recorded in 2021 reflects digital moving centre stage for Irish advertisers, from SMEs to large local and global brands."

Connor Mace Strategy Manager at PwC added: "The key ad spend growth drivers continue to be video and social. Video advertising grew by 53% in 2021. Social display, at €375 million, grew by 41% and now accounts for 76% of all display ad spend. However, it is also important to note that non-social display grew by 28% in 2021 and is 14% higher than in 2019 (pre-pandemic), which reflects a strong performance for publishers in the Irish market."

David Monaghan, Chairman of IAB Ireland Board and Head of Commercial News UK and Ireland said, "The 2021 ad spend report illustrates the resilience of the Irish advertising industry, with positive growth across formats. All indicators for 2022 continue to predict digital growth. One area to watch is digital audio. With 71% of Irish adults now listening each week*, it is not surprising that the digital audio ad spend of €11 million in 2021 is highlighted by ad spend participants for further growth in the year ahead."

*IAB Ireland-Red C Research: Listen Up Audio 2021

Notes to editors

  • The IAB has worked with PwC since 1997 to survey the value of online ad spend in Europe and North America.
  • 20 leading publishers and two ad networks or sales houses participated in the study, many of whom represent multiple websites. Other participants include advertising agencies.
  • Participating publishers were selected on the basis of traffic data and market knowledge. We estimate that our study accounts for 90% of online ad spend in Ireland. Reported figures are not adjusted to account for other organisations that have been included. Participation is voluntary.
  • Total advertising revenue is reported on a gross basis, including commission. Figures and percentages are rounded. In some areas, advertising formats are not mutually exclusive—there is some overlap across specific formats.
  • Ad spend revenue is drawn up on the basis of actual figures provided by the study participants on a confidential basis to PwC. The study results are prepared by PwC based on the figures provided by participants, which have not been audited by PwC.
  • Google, Meta (including Instagram), Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn do not publish their earnings from Irish advertisers. Instead, PwC in conjunction with IAB created an independent estimate of their revenues from Irish advertisers and agencies by extrapolating from spend data provided directly by a representative sample of their clients.
  • RTÉ does not submit data to the IAB-PwC Ad spend Study. However, RTÉ's digital ad spend is deduced through a Freedom of Information request as well as discussions with Ireland's leading advertising agencies.
  • Programmatic advertising is the buying and selling of online advertising inventory through automated methods rather than human actions. This includes, but is not limited to, real-time bidding (RTB).

About IAB Ireland

IAB Ireland is the trade association for the Irish online advertising industry. As a not-for-profit organisation, IAB Ireland works with members to ensure that marketers can identify the best role for online in building their brands. IAB Ireland is licensed by IAB US and is a member of the IAB Europe network. The IAB network shares three core objectives—to prove, promote and protect the online advertising industry. These objectives are fulfilled through the dissemination of authoritative research, the organisation of educational events and by promoting industry-wide best practice.

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