Please note that this press release was corrected 4 February 2022 at 11:05. An error in table 1 was corrected.

Advertising revenue of domestic media declined between the years 2019 and 2020 by 16% in real prices. Payments for display of advertisements in foreign media fell by the same ratio. Undoubtedly, this can be attributed to less activity in the various areas of society in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. Total media revenue declined by 6% between years. The total revenue of the media in 2020 was 25,128 million ISK. Revenue derived from users was 15.8 billion ISK and revenue from advertisements and sponsoring was 9.3 billion ISK.

The five largest media companies retained nearly 90% of the total revenue in 2020. The share of the public broadcaster, The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, was about a quarter of the market. In 2020 advertisement payments to foreign websites declined for first time in years. Four of every ten ISK spent on advertisements went to non-domestic media.

Since 2015 the total revenue of the mass media1 has declined by some 4%, measured in fixed prices. Revenue from advertisements and sponsoring has declined by a quarter at same time as users’ fees and revenue related to direct sale to customers has increased by 14%. At same time total revenue of other media2 increased by nearly 18%, thereof revenue from users by one third and doubling of advertisement revenue (see figure 1).

Changed media consumption in recent years is partly captured in changed share of different media in the media revenue over time as shown in table 1. In 2020, 45% of the mass media revenue was picked up by television and 14% by daily and other papers and magazines 3%.

In 2020 five media companies cropped up 89% of the total revenue. The share of the five largest was slightly higher as revenue from users is concerned, nine of every ten ISK. The share of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service was 26% of the total revenue, 31% of revenue from users and 17% of the advertising revenue (see table 2).

Reason for the slump in advertising revenue of the media in later years is largely attributable to payments for advertising services by foreign web sites and media. Various difficulties are associated with gauging the exact amount of these payments. In 2020, 6.8 billion ISK were payed to foreign companies for advertising services, market research and surveys included, compared with 10.1 billion ISK payments for advertising display in Icelandic media. Accordingly, 40% of the total payments were paid to non-domestic companies (see table 3).

After continuous increase in the share, payments to foreign media declined in 2020 for first time, or about 16%, or same decline in advertisement revenue as domestic media experienced. However, it must be kept in mind that considerable part of the payments to abroad is due to advertising aimed at consumers abroad, especially in connection with tourism. Hence, only a part of the revenue stream to abroad is to be considered as loss of advertising revenue of the local media. No information, whatsoever, is available in these matters.

It can be assumed that a significant part of advertising payments to non-domestic media is spent on advertising display on Facebook and Google (including its subsidiary YouTube). Credit card transaction information for 2020 show that over nine of every ten ISK spent were payed to these two parties. Comparable information for total payments for trade in services for advertising, market research and surveys is not available. Undoubtedly the sudden decline in advertisement payments to foreign media can partly be explained due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and drastic fall in number of tourists from abroad.

About the data
Information about revenue of the Icelandic media are derived from information from the media companies to the Icelandic Media Commission since 2011 (before to Statistics Iceland) and annual accounts. In the instances when information is lacking from the media revenues are estimated from VAT tax reports and other available information. Media revenue is here defined as revenue from users (subscription fees, single copy sales and pay-per view, broadcasting fee levied upon all eligible individuals and companies) and advertisements and sponsoring. The data does not include foreign media. Information about individual private media is not provided due to rules of confidentiality.

1 Daily and weekly newspapers, other periodical literature, radio and television, and web media. 2 Other media are here books, sound recordings, cinemas, videos, computer games and billboards.

Media revenue 1974-2020
Advertising revenue of the media 1996-2020

Further Information

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