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The Economic Impact

IHS Markit’s analysis shows the economic contribution of data-driven advertising stretching far beyond the advertising industry

Advertising & Internet Use

An in-depth study by GfK shows how most Europeans’ use of the internet depends on data-driven advertising


Our research shows the consequences of restricting data-driven ads: for the economy, the media landscape and the accessibility of the internet itself

Explore the realities of ePrivacy Regulation in our video documentaries

How data-driven advertising powers the EU

Data-driven advertising is smarter advertising. It’s more relevant, more measurable and more valuable: to consumers, advertisers, publishers and the EU economy as a whole. Smart advertising is what advertisers expect from digital platforms. They expect to be able to deliver their ads to relevant people and to be able to measure how effective they are.

The use of data in advertising has wide-ranging social, cultural and economic impacts for Europe – and on balance, these impacts are overwhelmingly positive. Data-driven advertising defines Europeans’ experience of the internet, the amount of time they spend online, and the range and types of sites that they visit. It plays a vital role in economic growth, lowering barriers to entry and enabling innovation and competition. The latest research and econometric analysis shows that, without the use of data in advertising, the role of the internet would be fundamentally diminished within Europe.

How important is data-driven advertising to Europe?

Because data-driven advertising’s impact is so far-reaching, it can be difficult to quantify. This online resource aims to address that gap and answer the question: how important is data-driven advertising to the EU?

This website uses data from three separate, independent studies into the impact of data-driven advertising. We worked with the research agencies IHS Markit and GfK to explore whether digital advertising needs data, how much it contributes to the EU economy and internet accessibility, and Europeans’ attitudes to data, advertising and ad-supported content.

bn per year to the economy

mln jobs in the EU

% of Europeans have not payed for online services

% of users prefer ads in exchange for free web content

up to % of the digital ad market would be lost if data in advertising is not used

% will never pay to access online content

The economic impact of data-driven advertising

IHS Markit’s analysis shows that the economic contribution of data-driven advertising stretches far beyond the advertising industry. It is fundamental to the business models of publishers, technology companies and advertisers themselves:

Digital advertising contributes €526 billion per year to the EU economy

6 million jobs in the EU depend on it

Over 66% of digital advertising’s contribution, and 90% of its growth, depends on the use of behavioural data

Data-driven advertising is over 500% more effective than advertising without data

Data-driven advertising and Europeans’ internet use

An in-depth study by GfK shows how most Europeans’ use of the internet depends on data-driven advertising:

Thanks to digital advertising, 68% of Europeans have never paid to access websites, online news or core internet services like email – and this rises to 75% among those on lower incomes

69% of Europeans are willing for their browsing data to be shared for advertising, in order to access digital content such as news articles and online video, for free

92% would stop using their favourite site or app if they had to pay for it

80% of internet users say they prefer free sites with ads to paying for content

The consequences of not using data  in advertising

How would the digital economy change if digital ads couldn’t use behavioral data? The latest research points towards serious damage to the economy, the media landscape and the accessibility of the internet itself:

In a balanced assessment of the likely impact, the digital advertising economy would lose more than 40% of its value

The largest impact would be felt by independent news sites and publishers, and smaller, start-up businesses, even up to 5x that on large media companies

88% of Europeans say they would use the internet far less if they had to pay for access

70% say they will never pay to access news content online, even if there is no free content available