Programmatic in South Africa

Researches & Insights
April 14, 2022 / Author: Zhuk Elizaweta

The South African digital market shows considerable growth. The use of programmatic buying has emerged and has been implemented over the past few years. It is now estimated to expand even further.

Digital ads market

According to Statista Digital Advertising Report 2021, in 2021 digital ad spending was $756 million, and is about to reach $874 million in 2022. Nowadays, South Africa has quite an active programmatic ads market. Over the past few years, programmatic has taken  up a major role in the sphere of digital advertising. In 2021, 56% of digital ads were generated by programmatic. This percentage is predicted to reach up to 59% in 2026. 

Source: Statista

Available audience

There are 41.19 million internet users in South Africa. It is about 68.2% of the total population at the start of 2022. However, the amount of internet users is constantly growing. According to DataReportal, internet users in South Africa increased by 494 thousand (+1.2%) between 2021 and 2022.

Amount of social media users is growing as well. Kepios analysis shows that social media users in South Africa increased by 3.0 million (+12.0%) between and 2022. In 2022, the number of social network users has already reached 28.00 million.

Over the past 10 years, there was a rapid increase of consumers that use mobile phones in South Africa. In 2021, 95% of South Africans had a mobile phone. Moreover, nine out of 10 of them use social media. According to Statista, 75.43% of website traffic came from mobile phones in 2021. Brands should consider that to optimize their ad campaigns for mobile devices as well.

Source: Statista

Ad formats

The market’s largest segment is Video Advertising with a market volume of $454m in 2022.

Source: Statista

Also popular ad formats in South Africa are banners and advertising in social networks.


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Top SSPs used in South Africa
  • Google Ad Manager
  • AppNexus
  • Rubicon
  • BidSwitch
  • Brightroll
  • MoPub
  • TeadsTV
  • Waze
  • Open.X

E-commerce market in South Africa

The E-commerce market is rapidly growing in South Africa. South African online purchases increased by 66% between 2019 and 2020 to more than $1.8 billion. it will continue to grow. According to South Africa E-commerce market report, the e-commerce market is expected to reach $7.9 billion by 2027 in South Africa.

This increase was partly influenced by the COVID-19. South Africans got acquainted with shopping online, experienced the convenience of making purchases online and will be shopping online more. The number of e-commerce shoppers is expected to amount to 33.4m users by 2025.

According to ecommerceDB, the top e-commerce categories are Fashion with 32% of the E-commerce revenue, Toys, hobby & DIY with 27%, Electronics % Media with 18%, Furniture & Appliances with 15% and Food & Personal Care with 8%. South Africans are price sensitive and prefer goods with discounts and coupons. Also, they spend a lot of time online researching better prices and product recommendations on social networks.

Market peculiarities

The South African programmatic ad market shrank nearly almost a quarter in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, there is a great potential for programmatic advertising in South Africa. Africa’s position in the competitive global ad market is demonstrating a positive growth as projections show.