What will 2019 bring for the CEE ad markets?

Even though 2018 was not always easy for the Central-Eastern European advertising industry (occasionally meaning shocking state regulations), the continuing market growth fills professionals’ hearts with optimism regarding 2019. In the CANnual Report 2018 we asked media experts from the region to summarize their prognoses and expectations about the upcoming year. This article is based on their assumptions.

The Visegrad Four

Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary have nothing to complain about, as their ad markets increase steadily, and this is the region where the competition of digital and television ad spending is the fiercest. While online still needs some time to catch up in Slovakia, in the Czech Republic and Hungary it already has a firm lead, and Poland has probably reached the tipping point in 2018.

According to weCAN experts from the Visegrad Group, diversification of digital media consumption habits will continue to be a major trend next year, followed by the fragmentation of advertising budgets. “Ad spending will be further split within media types along technical, technological, content and video formats. This will require constant improvement of skills, capacity and cost efficiency by the agencies,” wrote Anita Király, Media Director of Café Communications, Hungary.

Diversification will also affect the agency market. “(…) media agencies are going to increase their business consulting capabilities as a reaction to consulting firms wetting their beaks in the segment – and probably dabble in the creative process as well,” wrote Eduard Krečmar, Strategist at _CANMedia, Czech Republic. “On the other hand, creative agencies will need to develop their knowledge in campaign delivery and deployment studies – as creating any concept without considering its performance simply will no longer be enough.”


Growing online media consumption, especially via mobile, increasing use of data-based marketing and content marketing tools, and new, innovative solutions entering the market thanks to the first 5G technologies – those are the major trends expected to affect the advertising market of the Baltic states in 2019 according to Anita Kolesnikova, Media Director of Creative Media Baltic.

In Lithuania, there are two other factors that will shape the local advertising landscape: the upcoming elections on 12 May and the state ban of alcohol advertising that will probably lead to a 5-10% decrease of the overall local ad spending.


Contrary to the Baltic policy of alcohol advertisement, Russia may prolong the green light for beer ads in sport facilities, originally introduced during the World Cup. However, this is far from being the greatest change expected on the local market next year.

“The State Standard for placement of outdoor advertising (currently depending on the decision of the regional authorities) that should come into force in 2019 will outlaw about 80% of the outdoor spots within the territory of Russia,” wrote Vladimir Shmalenyuk, Non-TV Buying Director of Mediaplus, part of Serviceplan Russia.

The audience of digital has already exceeded that of TV in 2018, which will further increase mobile advertising and online video spending, while TV is also doing fine: by increasing the length of prime-time ad blocks and due to a 10% media inflation, the volume of advertising in TV is expected to grow by 15%.

The Balkans

South-Eastern European countries are a safe place for TV: as observed in the CANnual Report 2018, more than 50% of the overall advertising spending in SEE countries (Croatia being the only exception with 47%) goes to television and weCAN experts forecast that the trend will remain unchanged in 2019. They anticipate a small but steady growth of the overall advertising market and a double-digit increase in the digital segment.

In Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia, inflation is forecasted to take place across popular media types. In Serbia, programmatic and synergies between digital and OOH advertising will start giving life-signs, while in Romania multiscreening will further evolve.

In conclusion, each CEE ad market is expected to realise greater or lesser growth in 2019, with the digital segment showing the highest growth rate. However, the already mentioned, sometimes feared advertising regulations can still cause some turbulence in the new year.

Dóra Pethő

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