Last week saw a flurry of interesting stats and reports focused on digital advertising.

First off, Group M, WPP’s media buying group, predicted that the UK will become the first country in the world with more than half of total ad spend going to digital media.

Group M’s forecast suggests that the total UK ad market will hit £15.7bn in 2015, with online spend growing to £8bn.

To give you some frame of reference, the countries that are closest to the UK in digital ad growth are:

  • Sweden, where 47% of ad spend will be digital
  • Denmark, where 43% of ad spend will be digital
  • Australia, where 42% of total ad spend will be digital
  • Norway, where 40% of total ad spend will be digital

On the theme of digital ad spend, emarketer’s UK digital Ad report released figures last week to confirm that the UK operations of Google and Facebook will make a combined £4.1bn in 2015, which is a 50.8% share of total digital ad revenues.

Facebook UK’s ad revenues are forecast to grow by 55% this year to £576m and by a further 29% next year to £743m, with all of that income coming from display advertising.

EMarketer said Facebook would pull off a coup this year by taking more digital display advertising spending than Google for the first time – £576m versus £528m – with the two players accounting for 48% of the £2.3bn UK digital display ad market.

However, before we get too excited, Google also told us last week that 56.1 per cent of online display ad impressions are not seen by consumers, according to its first global viewability report.

This was based on trials with advertisers, and the tests centred on impressions taken from a wide range of global publishers across Google’s Display Network (GDN), DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick ad Exchange.

Google has adhered to the IAB standards for its viewability report,  which specify that for an ad to be in-view, 50 per cent of pixels must be in the viewable portion of an internet browser for at least one second; and two for video ads. This seems to be an absolute minimum to be ‘viewed’ and some would argue it should be longer!

The hope is that the ongoing discussion around whether ads are actually viewed online will lead to further accountability in the online advertising industry and move us towards a more tangible visibility measurement, which has been in demand for some time.

So, what can we learn from these figures? The truth is the move to online advertising is continuing to grow, and Google and Facebook are likely to remain the dominant force. However, the world is waking up to the holes in online advertising measurement, and although the pot of gold continues to grow, brands are going to demand more evidence of success for their money. And rightly so!