IAB UK’s Digital Adspend report for 2021, conducted with PwC, shows that the digital advertising market grew by 41% last year to a total of £23.5 billion.

The full-year Digital Adspend report for 2021 shows that the digital advertising market saw its biggest full year growth for 15 years last year, with investment up 41% year-on-year to £23.5 billion. The report, which is conducted with PwC, shows that 2021 spend was also up 50% on 2019, the last full year in which the pandemic did not have an impact on activity.

Here are some of the key takeouts

  • Search attracted the largest share of overall spend, up 38% to £11.7 billion. For the first time, Digital Adspend has captured advertisers’ investment in search shopping ads, which totalled £3.5 billion in 2021 – reflecting the blossoming ecommerce market
  • Spend on display ads was up 53% to £9.7 billion, with both social and non-social display up by more than 50%
  • Video continued to drive the majority of display growth, up 58% to £5.5 billion. Spend on banner ads surged by 60%, suggesting that advertisers are reevaluating the value of standard display formats  as part of their campaigns
  •  Significantly, this year’s results reveal that digital ad spend grew across the board with the total market up 33% excluding the industry’s five largest companies.
  • Mobile accounted for 60% of total spend, up 43% year-on-year to £14.13 billion
  • Podcast investment was up 61% year-on-year to £54 million, while digital audio’s annual growth rate multiplied from 17% in 2020 to 58% in 2021



Podcasts and streaming for music and radio has seen the largest growth in ad revenue, hitting a total of $4.9 billion in revenue during 2021.

With a nearly 58 percent year-over-year growth in ad revenue — up from 17 percent the previous year — the digital audio category outpaced streaming video, social media, search and display advertising growth during 2021, the report found.

  • The digital advertising market grew by 41% last year to a total of £23.5 billion
  • Digital audio’s annual growth rate skyrocketed from 17% in 2020 to 58% in 2021, reaching £164 million
  • Podcast investment was up 61% YoY, reaching £54 million
  • Streaming investment was up 56% YoY, totalling £110 million

The majority of growth in the digital audio category came from mobile devices, which brought in $4.1 billion in ad revenue and accounted for 85 percent of the category’s total revenue.

Commenting on the results, Jon Mew, CEO of IAB UK, said: After a 5% rise in digital ad spend in 2020, we were confident that 2021’s results would be much stronger, but for the market to be up 50% on pre-pandemic spend is incredible and testament to the resilience of our world-leading industry. It’s particularly exciting to see emerging formats such as in-game advertising and podcasts continue to gather pace and offer new, untapped opportunities for growth.

The future of digital audio is getting brighter and brighter. They are very positive news for the digital audio industry as a whole and AdTonos, once again!

To download the report login here.