Digital Advertising Spend in the UK 2013

Back in February we published an article detailing recent average click-through rates for various digital advertising formats. It has proved hugely popular amongst our readers and so we thought it would make sense to follow on with a post about ad spend in the digital advertising industry, since this is a widely talked about topic and we would like to provide you with some great insight into what is being invested in, courtesy of the IAB.

In May, the IAB released the full 2013 ad spend report for the UK. It includes spend on online, mobile and tablet advertising.  Below I have highlighted the key observations.

  • Overall digital ad spend was up by £6.3bn. That’s an increase of £853m year on year.



  • Within the digital media mix, paid search still dominates the share of revenue at 55%. Display accounts for 30%, classifieds 14% and 1% other.

  • However, display leads the way in terms of like for like growth at 22.1% over recent years. Paid search’s growth rate of 14.2% is still substantial but not quite as impressive.


Ad spend by ‘display’ type

Banners £962m 

Banners in social £433m

Online video £325m

Sponsorships £57m

Dedicated tablet £43m

Tenancies £12m

Interruptive formats £16m

Other £23m

  • In 2013, £1.862m was spent on display advertising.

  • Banner ads accounted for 52% of this, with £962m ad spend, not including the further £433m spent on social banners.

  • Ad spend on social media display has grown 71% year on year.

  • Online video is the next in lead at £325m, accounting for 17% of total ad spend. That’s a growth of 62.5% from the previous year.



  • Display on mobile has increased hugely in revenue share from the previous two years, with a growth of 180%.

  • Top online display advertisers of 2013 include McDonald’s, Microsoft, giffgaff, American Express and TalkTalk.

  • Overall, consumer goods lead as the biggest display industry sector at 18.1% of ad spend followed by finance with 13.7% and retail at 12%.


Ad spend in mobile has increased significantly from £528.5m in 2012 to £1.031bn in 2013. That’s an incredible 93.3% growth!

  • Paid for search accounted for a 57% share of revenue, display at 42%, and the rest from SMS, classified and other formats.

  • Mobile video advertising spend (£69.3m) increased by 346% from 2012 to 2013.

  • 40% of standard display ad spend is in browser inventory and 60% of the spend is in app inventory.

  • Consumer goods is also the biggest mobile display industry sector at 24%, followed very closely by entertainment and media at 22%.

  • Mobile now accounts for 16% of digital ad spend.


It’s clear from the above figures that digital advertising is not slowing down - from a modest spend of £825m in 2004 to £6,300m in 2013. We have seen some significant changes in the advertising marketplace in general, with drops in cinema, press-classified, press-display, radio and direct mail advertising. Digital is leading the way with a 35% market share - now well ahead of the ever-consistent spend on television which stands at £4.516m in 2013. Leading the way in digital are search; and display - of which is powered by video, social and mobile. The forecast for coming years is looking positive with a consistent rise in digital ad spend.



Find out more about:

Related content: