The local online advertising industry is beginning to recover from its COVID-19 damage, growing 11 per cent in the last quarter, data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau released today shows.

But total spend is still down from 2019 levels including the biggest spend category – search and directories – shrinking nearly seven per cent year on year.

The total amount spent on digital advertising in Australia in the three months to September 2020 was $2.26 billion, according to the IAB, $117 million less than the same period last year.

IAB Australia’s Online Advertising Expenditure Report shows in Q3 all advertising categories grew from Q2 after shrinking in the first half of 2020 as most brands either paused or pulled back digital ad spend amid COVID uncertainty.

Australia’s leading online advertising industry group says confidence and spend has returned in Q3, with an 11.3 per cent growth on the suppressed Q2 spend.

Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia. Image: Supplied.

“It’s been a challenging year but the growth this quarter in terms of digital formats signals the industry is bouncing back,” said Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia.

“We are now entering what is traditionally considered the industry’s’ strongest quarter and we anticipate a continuation of the growth through to the end of the year.”

The latest IAB figures show Australian brands spent over $1 billion on search and directories advertising – around 45 per cent off total expenditure. General display advertising is the next most popular option at $871 million in the quarter, or 38 per cent of the total spend.

General display spend actually grew slightly from the same period in 2019 but search and directories spend shrunk 6.9 per cent.

Retailers remain the biggest buyer of digital ads, according to the IAB, while connected TV continues to take share from desktop and mobile.

The industry group says advertisers’ buying preferences for content publishers’ inventory remained stable in Q3 despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, with 40 per cent opting to buy via an agency, 16 per cent direct, 11 per cent via programmatic guaranteed and 33 per cent via programmatic Real Time Bidding or Private Marketplace.

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