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DIGITAL MEDIA LANDSCAPE

Study shows a 31% year-on-year growth in SA’s digital media landscape

By our News Team | 2022

Finance, FMCG and alcohol remain the categories with the highest percentage of media spend in South Africa.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) South Africa has released the IAB South Africa / PwC Internet Advertising Revenue Report — 2021 Study. The report was compiled in collaboration with business consultancy PwC.

“The analysis and resulting findings are based on actual figures and provide realistic, reliable and trustworthy data that can be used by media agencies, publishers and marketers for improved decision-making for them and their clients,” says Haydn Townsend, Chairperson at IAB South Africa.

Digital Media Landscape

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Inputs from various market stakeholders are included in the study. Among them:

  • The Advertising Media Forum.
  • Online and mobile publishers and agencies.
  • Advertisers for the year 2021.

IAB’s Research Council, which is chaired by Shaun Frazao, Global Strategy Partner at media agency Wavemaker, drove the report.

“The study is conducted with buy-side advertising agencies and clients and this information is then cross-checked with information from research provider Omdia before being independently compiled by PwC,” Frazao explains.

Among the key insights is a 31% year-on-year growth in digital media, which is up by 21% from the same period in 2020. Despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, sustainable high digital growth is expected as the economy recovers.

Other findings include:

  • Internet advertising is at an all-time high of 32.3% of the overall ad market, being up from 29.6% in 2020 and 22.8% in 2019.
  • Total Internet advertising revenue for 2021 was worth R12.1-billion (US$710-million), R2.9-billion (US$170-million) more than in 2020.
  • Paid search grew by 16.8% to 20.4% in 2021, which is up from 3.6% in 2020.
  • Google remains the market leader in paid search, with 99.0% of revenue in 2021.
  • Google Chrome remains the most popular browser in South Africa, with 69.4% of people using it.
  • South Africans remain worried about data privacy, with 47.5% reporting they decline cookies at least some of the time and 40.4% using ad blockers.
  • 61.5% of South Africans aged 13 or older use social media, with Meta accounting for 80.3% of paid social revenue in 2021.
  • Finance (29%), FMCG (14%) and alcohol (11%) remain the categories with the highest percentage of media spend.
  • Performance-based ad campaigns remain the most popular, accounting for 47% of purchases.


“Being able to benchmark available ad revenues over time is a measure of the health and opportunity in South Africa’s media and marketing space,” says Claire Cobbledick, Vice Chairperson at IAB SA.

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