Programmatic revenues in Europe grew by a healthy 33% in 2018 to reach €16.7bn, despite concerns from advertisers about the effectiveness of the current digital supply chain and worries that GDPR would impact digital spend.
Although brands in the region have been questioning the value of their programmatic media spend and putting pressure on platforms and adtech vendors to increase transparency and tackle ad fraud, the figures from IAB Europe have painted a positive financial picture for the industry.
The trade body's annual Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising report found that 70% of display and 50% of all video inventory is now traded via programmatic. Social media buying dominates programmatic, but even when this medium was removed from the equation the market still saw impressive growth of 26.6% to a total of €5.5bn.
While the industry is experiencing a boom, the report also revealed how the awareness and adoption of the ads.txt transparency standards from the buy-side had been "low", even though some 56% of publishers had adopted the practice.
Townesend Fehan, chief executive of IAB Europe said: “The programmatic industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, to ensure it continues to provide a safe environment for advertisers, a positive experience for consumers and addresses the demands made by new regulation throughout the world.
"In the context of this evolution, it is encouraging to see the majority of stakeholders expecting an increase in programmatic investments of up to 80 per cent over the next 12 months. In particular, we expect digital out-of-home, audio and connected TV to be areas of growth.
“It is clear however that talent, the low buy-side adoption of ads.txt, and supply chain transparency remain impediments to this growth and these are areas we will be addressing with our members.”
The detailed report also charted a stagnation of in-house operating models among advertisers which remained flat at 38% this year. However, the IAB noted that this disguised a new ascendancy of hybrid models which had seen their share jump from just 16% in 2018 to 21% in 2019.
Another notable trend was the tendency for advertisers to align with consultancies, with the proportion of advertisers using consultancies for programmatic buying rising from essentially 0% to 7% year-on-year.
In May the IAB reported that global digital ad spend had surpassed $100bn for the first time.