Irish online advertising market expected to fall as much as 20%

Video surge drove digital ad revenues to €673m last year, IAB Ireland and PwC find

Irish online ad revenues could fall by as much as 20 per cent this year, undoing growth of 17 per cent recorded in 2019, as pandemic restrictions prompt a retreat across the market.

IAB Ireland, which represents media groups, platforms and agencies active in online advertising, said its members expected a 10-20 per cent drop in digital ad spending in 2020 as advertisers cancel, defer or curtail campaigns.

The trade association estimates that the market reached €673 million last year, meaning a 20 per cent plunge could wipe about €135 million from the market.

The lost millions will come despite a dramatic increase in digital consumption, said Suzanne McElligott, chief executive of IAB Ireland.


“Irish people have never been more engaged online,” she said. “Our publisher members report an average increase of 49 per cent unique users over recent weeks and, as we work from home and observe social isolation, users are also more active on social and video platforms.”

About three-quarters of IAB members predict the online ad market will rebound from its current slump in the second half of the year, though twice as many think this will happen in the fourth quarter rather than third.

Video surge

The review of 2019 by IAB and accountants PwC found that revenues from display advertising, which includes social media and video ads, expanded 30 per cent to €326 million last year. Digital video advertising is now a €130 million business, it said, after surging 42 per cent in value in 2019.

The more mature search ad market, dominated by Google, rose 7 per cent to €306 million, while online classified ad revenue rose 8 per cent year-on-year to an estimated €41 million.

Separate estimates from marketing group Core suggest Google and Facebook collected about 81 per cent of online ad revenues in the Republic in 2019, giving the two tech giants a 40 per cent share of total Irish adspend.

If the online ad market limits its contraction to 10-20 per cent, it will likely fare better than the advertising market as a whole, with print, television, radio, out-of-home and cinema revenues all on track to suffer starker declines.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics