UK Programmatic Digital Display Advertising Outlook 2021

UK Programmatic Digital Display Advertising Outlook 2021

Pandemic Accelerates Trend Toward Advertiser Control

About This Report
Programmatic ad spending will account for 93.6% of total UK display ad spending this year, or £7.90 billion ($10.09 billion). Open exchanges, though, will account for a diminishing proportion of that total; spend declined 2.4% in 2020.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The pandemic put a dent—albeit a small one—in the projected growth rate for UK programmatic display ad spending. But strong growth is expected in 2021, as automation’s reach extends into traditional channels. However, trust in open exchanges is diminishing.

How much will be spent on UK programmatic advertising in 2021?

UK programmatic display ad spending will reach £7.90 billion ($10.09 billion) in 2021, up 16.4% from 2020 to account for 93.6% of total display ad spending.

How did the pandemic affect our forecasts?

Our pre-pandemic UK programmatic digital display ad spending growth estimate for 2020 (17.5%) was revised downward in October to 9.4%.

What have been the underlying drivers for these changes?

During the pandemic, consumers leaned into a lot of digital media. Advertisers took advantage and employed automation wherever they could. Digital video performed incredibly well, while the strength of social media advertising meant that programmatic direct’s influence was keenly felt. Outside of social media, open exchanges came under pressure, with 2020 ad spending in public auctions falling 2.4% as advertisers sought greater control and certainty through programmatic direct and private marketplace (PMP) buys.

Which nascent areas will affect future growth?

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is making the move to automation, though from a very small base. Connected TV (CTV), meanwhile, represents one of the biggest growth areas for programmatic display advertising.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report presents our updated forecast for UK programmatic digital display ad spending through 2022. It provides context for how the programmatic market is growing across transaction types, formats, and devices.

KEY STAT: UK programmatic ad spending rode out the 2020 storm and will grow strongly through 2022 to reach £9.01 billion ($11.50 billion).

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Total Programmatic Ad Spending
  3. Spending by Transaction Type
  4. Spending by Device
  1. Spending by Format
  2. Programmatic DOOH Ad Spending
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. Insider Intelligence Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Akshay Bhattacharjee
Integral Ad Science
Programmatic Solutions Specialist, EMEA
Interviewed September 23, 2020
Will Brownsdon
UK Managing Director
Interviewed September 23, 2020
Pierce Cook-Anderson
Smart AdServer
Country Manager, Northern Europe
Interviewed September 23, 2020
Eliette Cremer
Space & Time
Programmatic Lead
Interviewed September 22, 2020
Emma Delserieys
Director, Customer Success and Attribution, EMEA
Interviewed September 21, 2020
Laura Fordham
Control v Exposed
Director, Business Strategy and Development
Interviewed September 30, 2020
Alison Harding
Vice President, Data Solutions, EMEA
Interviewed September 21, 2020
Lucy Hinton
Head of Client Operations
Interviewed September 18, 2020
Richard Johnson
Interviewed September 21, 2020
Anna Jorysz
NMPi by Incubeta
Display and Creative Director
Interviewed September 25, 2020
Toby Lett
Product Manager
Interviewed September 21, 2020
Lisa Menaldo
The Advisory Collective
Interviewed September 21, 2020
Emma Newman
Chief Revenue Officer, EMEA
Interviewed September 23, 2020
Lasse Nordsiek
Smart AdServer
Country Manager, DACH
Interviewed September 23, 2020
Sophie Pemberton
Talon Outdoor
Group Strategy Director
Interviewed September 4, 2020
Veronique Pican
Smart AdServer
Country Manager, France
Interviewed September 23, 2020
Austin Scott
Head of Video Market Development, EMEA
Interviewed September 28, 2020
Andreas Soupliotis
Founder and CEO
Interviewed September 23, 2020
Gavin Wilson
Chief Revenue Officer
Interviewed September 15, 2020

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Bill Fisher


Alina Brentnall
Researcher, Europe
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Shelleen Shum
Director, Forecasting
Karin von Abrams
Principal Analyst