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eMarketer estimates that social network ad spending—including display, search, video and other forms of ads appearing within social sites, social games and social applications—will reach $2.54 billion, or 8.0% of digital ad spending, in Western Europe this year, for an annual gain of more than 21%. Even greater growth will be seen in 2015, as social sites claim an estimated 9.1% of Western Europe’s digital ad investments, according to a new eMarketer report, “Western Europe Social Networking Trends: Ad Spending Trails Rising Consumer Usage.”
Yet by any measure, ad spending on social networks still lags well behind what one might expect considering the size and growth of the region’s social audience and the importance most of those users attach to social media. eMarketer projects the number of social network users in Western Europe to pass 178 million this year, as nearly 60% of internet users—equivalent to 42.6% of the population—visit a social site via some device at least monthly.
Following global revelations about threats to online privacy from government bodies and other organizations, many EU-5 web users are wary of the potential dangers of social networking.
In reality, though, privacy worries seldom trump the perceived advantages of allowing organizations and advertisers to gather and store web users’ personal data. According to October 2013 findings from Ipsos MORI, a majority of internet users surveyed in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Great Britain said they would rather receive personalized services and recommendations—at the cost of their privacy—than restrict access to their details.
Even if privacy concerns do cause social networks some incremental loss of audience, the arrival of new users more than counterbalances that attrition. And, arguably, web users bailing out of social networks may be the least attractive targets for advertisers in any case if they are extremely averse to sharing personal information.
More importantly, large numbers of social network users still consider social sites quite good places to connect with brands, friends and other contacts.
An April 2014 report from Interactive Advertising Bureau Spain and ELOGIA noted that 41% of social network users in Spain followed at least one brand via social media last year, and 45% said they would do so in the coming year.
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