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Adspend Media Planning and Buying IAB

IAB UK expects CTV and gaming ad spend to double by 2026


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

February 7, 2023 | 6 min read

The industry body for digital advertising has outlined four up-and-coming ad mediums that marketers should keep an eye on.


IAB digs into innovative new media to predict 2026 spend / Dean Geurts

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released its 2023 Compass report as it looks to understand how the media mix will shift in the UK over the next few years. Working with consultancy MTM, the research comprised of 23 in-depth interviews with industry execs, as well as a 53-person online survey in the third quarter of 2022.

Here’s what it found...

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Connected TV (CTV) viewing is on the rise, accounting for some 28% of all TV viewing by UK adults. For 16-34-year-olds, that was 55%. The uptake of CTV devices jumped from one-third of UK households in 2017 to two-thirds by 2021. Furthermore, ad spend has grown an average of 40% annually since 2017.

In 2021, around 48% of CTV spend was on broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) and 50% on other ad-supported streaming services. YouTube is one of the big winners in advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD).

The IAB expects CTV spend to roughly double to £2.31bn by 2026. It sees new ad tiers at Disney+ and Netflix as “catalysts for growth” that will nudge new budgets into the space. With the cost of living crisis hurting consumers, there is likely to be more uptake of AVOD services too.

It reported that “addressing issues around fragmentation and standards would drive growth further”. One respondent to its survey said they were still concerned about the quality of the programming they would be placed with. Another said that CTV is fragmented and currently much harder to buy than the BVOD providers they are already acquainted with.

Gaming advertising

Current UK spend on gaming advertising is estimated to be £815m. That is projected to more than double to £1.84bn by 2026.

Mobile gaming proved to be lucrative because it has found a value exchange where players engage with advertising in exchange for free access to games. Console and PC titles are experimenting with advertising too to help supplement costly next-gen development cycles – it remains to be seen whether it will fully work in high-priced games.

The report claims there are barriers for marketers. It believes that advertisers remain unfamiliar with the medium, which gives rise to brand safety concerns. Uptake will depend on whether advertisers can navigate the space and develop working creative that they can measure effectively.

One media exec told researchers that new sectors are embracing the medium, from consumer packaged goods to clothing and fashion, right through to financial services.

Shoppable advertising

Social commerce sales are predicted to reach £6.8bn (gross merchandise value) in the UK over the next three years (3% of UK e-commerce), up from £2.4bn in 2021.

Meta, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, Snap Inc and Twitter, as well as Google and Bing in search and Roku, NBCU and Hulu in streaming were all included in the study and all boasted shoppable commerce. Clothing, fashion, consumer electronics, grocery, home decor and beauty were all found to be the lead sectors in the shoppable media space.

One adtech exec said: “People don’t ’go to the shops’ on a mission any more, they’re constantly in a shopping mindset and are able to buy practically anything immediately. The path to purchase has changed.”

One media buyer expressed doubt that shoppable media will take off in the UK despite it being a big deal in China. This media might scratch a small but lucrative itch.

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Augmented and virtual reality

Advertisers’ AR investment could reach between £250m and £350m in the UK by 2026. It is expected to reach £7.5bn globally.

The growth here depends on user uptake, which has potential but remains limited. More than one-third of UK adults and 79% of under 25s have used AR and 16% are regular users. That may be enough to sway advertisers. The IAB anticipates a surge of new ad formats to market in the next two years.

One agency head of digital admitted that AR try-ons were once “a novelty” but can offer utility in showroom scenarios – something Snap is leaning heavily into.

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