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  • Writer's pictureRussell Vilardi

State of the Programmatic Ad Market in Europe

Streaming customer viewing programmatically placed ads


The programmatic ad market in Europe has seen significant growth over the past several years, accelerated by the onset of the pandemic and elevated expectations from consumers who want to receive totally customized viewing experiences.

But for companies to stay competitive in this growing market—especially as data capabilities and EU regulations evolve—they must keep their finger on the pulse of programmatic ad trends and market demands.

In this guide, we’ll explore the current state of the programmatic ad market in Europe, what it’s projected to look like in the future, and the tools, knowledge, and partners you need to succeed in this space.

Quick Takeaways

  • Programmatic ad placement leverages AI and automation to deliver personalized and targeted ad experiences.

  • The programmatic ad market in Europe is projected to continue growing at a CAGR of 8.34% through 2028.

  • Ad tech and data companies will play an increasingly pivotal role in the programmatic ad market in Europe as third-party cookies phase out and data privacy laws evolve.

Programmatic Advertising: A Quick Overview

Programmatic advertising uses AI technology to award digital advertising space to the highest real-time bidder. It’s a highly-automated, algorithmic process that tailors to individual consumer interests, preferences, and habits to create highly customized viewing experiences.

The advantages of programmatic advertising are powerful and two-fold: Buyers maximize ROI by bidding on the most advantageous ad space, while consumers see content that’s relevant to them, thus driving a better overall experience from the streaming service.

This level of personalization is a competitive win for advertisers and OTT streaming companies alike. Research reveals that viewers are 3.5X more likely to be interested in a video that’s personalized to them, yet only 25% say they’re currently receiving it from brands.

Statistics show a viewer is 3.5X more likely to be interested in personalized video than not, but only 25% say they receive it from brands.

With programmatic advertising, advertisers and streaming companies can uplevel their ad ROI while gaining an advantage over other brands without personalized tactics in place.

The State of the Programmatic Ad Market in Europe

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the subsequent shift toward digital everything accelerated the growth of the programmatic ad market in Europe over the past several years. Since then, and for the foreseeable future, there’s been considerable market growth in the forecast.

According to Statista, Europe’s spending on programmatic advertising increased from $39.81 billion in 2017 to $73.88 billion in 2021, with a particularly large jump between 2020 and 2021, after the pandemic began.

As you can see, Statista predicts that programmatic ad growth will steadily continue through 2026. Separate market intelligence research by Mordor Intelligence concurs—they predict that the programmatic ad market in Europe will grow at a CAGR of 8.34% between now and 2028.

In short: Programmatic advertising is the digital advertising approach for the future. Brands, agencies, and OTT companies not on board with this method will need to get up to speed if they want to stay competitive and keep customers happy.

Going Forward: Data Considerations

There’s no question that the programmatic ad market in Europe is growing and will continue to do so in the coming years. But evolving EU data privacy regulations and the pending elimination of third-party tracking cookies have thrown a wrench in the plan for some organizations.

More specifically, it’s added a layer of complication to the market’s growth since it can no longer be executed the same way it has been in the past. But it’s important to note that the revenue opportunity behind programmatic advertising is unchanged—it’s just the approach that requires adjustment.

Organizations will now be required to lean on first-party data to learn about their customers and deliver customized viewing experiences. And according to IAB research, there’s a clear disparity in preparedness for the elimination of third-party cookies between different types of companies.

Their survey found that 86% of ad tech and data companies are ready for the change, while less than half (48%) of brands feel the same. Only 64% of agencies and 70% of publishers feel ready.


The bar chart shows the level of readiness for third-party cookie elimination by company type, including brand, agency, publisher, and ad tech/data.

These results suggest a more prominent and active role for ad tech and data companies in the optimization of programmatic ad placement for brands, agencies, and OTT platforms.

Putting it All Together

Programmatic advertising is no longer nice to have. It’s a necessity to meet the expectations for personalized experiences now held by consumers in every market. The programmatic ad market in Europe has shown significant growth over the past several years, accelerated by the onset of the pandemic and continued advances in data management and analytics.

All signs point to continued significant growth for programmatic advertising in Europe through 2028 and beyond, with some key considerations to keep in mind.

Understanding new data privacy regulations and how to leverage first-party data will be critical to success in the future. Partnering with ad tech companies that have the right knowledge and experience to integrate first-party data in programmatic ad selection will be key.

Boost Programmatic Ad ROI with Penthera

As the programmatic ad market in Europe grows and inevitably becomes more crowded, it will be more crucial than ever to maximize revenue per slot.

Tools like Penthera’s 2nd Look can help both streaming providers, and advertisers optimize CTV inventory by making smart real-time decisions, increasing fill rates, and reaching more targeted viewers.

Contact Penthera today to learn more.

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