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Digital Ad Spending Struggles in Spain

Outlays on search and display advertising were almost 6% lower in H1 2013

December 10, 2013 | Media Buying

In many European countries, including Spain, outlays on digital ads have tended to rise in recent years, even as total ad spending has dropped thanks to the global recession and the eurozone crisis. But recent figures from Spain’s Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB Spain) reveal a somewhat gloomier picture.

Overall, spending on digital ads in Spain reached an estimated €429.49 million ($550.6 million) in the first half of 2013. The internet claimed nearly 96% of the total, or €411.77 million ($527.9 million)—down 5.68% on the same period in 2012, and the lowest half-year total for three years. The results were based on confidential data from 58 companies operating in Spain, including international giants Yahoo!, Microsoft, Fox and Spotify, as well as national players such as Artes Media and social network Tuenti.

More than 40% of internet ad spending went to display in H1, IAB Spain reported. Financial pressures appear to have stifled higher outlays on display, as expenditure on these formats dropped by nearly 10% compared with H1 2012. By contrast, an estimated 59.31% of the internet total went to search placements in H1 2013—a rise of 3.4% since the equivalent period last year.

Digital Ad Spending in Spain, by Format, H1 2013 (millions of €)

The automotive industry accounted for nearly one in five ad dollars spent on internet display formats. No other sector was responsible for more than 9% of the total, though telecommunications, finance and travel registered between 8.0% and 8.5%.

According to the IAB, mobile was responsible for less than 3.5% of all digital ad spending during H1 2013, at €14.84 million ($19.0 million), but has shown the strongest growth—up a resounding 20.3% since H1 2012. On mobile devices, display expenditure exceeded search ad spending by a ratio of 3 to 1.

It’s increasingly difficult for marketers to ignore mobile devices in their strategies, because almost every consumer in Spain has one. eMarketer estimates that more than 87% of the entire population will use a mobile phone in 2014, and within three years, that proportion will be 90%.

Mobile Phone Users in Spain, 2011-2017 (millions, % of population and % change)

Mobile phones also play a central role in a much newer ad experience: digital signage, such as out-of-home displays that invite passers-by to interact with them. IAB Spain’s recent figures noted the presence of digital signage for the first time, though the category attracted no more than €2.89 million ($3.71 million) in H1 2013—just 0.67% of all digital ad spending.


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