Half of all global adspend will be online by 2021, Zenith report says

Growth in internet adspend will cool off over next three years, however.

Internet: will account for half of global adspend by 2021
Internet: will account for half of global adspend by 2021

Zenith has released its latest global adspend forecasts, predicting that more than half (52%) of global advertising expenditure will be spent on internet advertising for the first time in 2021.

However, in spite of this upcoming milestone, the internet ad market's growth is expected to slow down rapidly year on year, declining from 17% growth last year to 12% in the first half of this year and dipping to just 9% by 2021.

"The point at which internet advertising exceeds half of global adspend has been approaching for some time, but this is the first time it has appeared in our forecasts," Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting at Zenith, said.

"2021 will be the first year of single-digit internet adspend growth since 2001  the year the dotcom bubble burst."

According to the Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, much of this growth is set to come from small, local businesses that spend their budgets on platforms with self-serving management tools such as Google and Facebook, allowing them to launch campaigns for a highly targeted audience. On the other hand, a majority of larger advertisers commit less than half of their budget to these platforms, Zenith said, in lieu of traditional media. 

"The categories that have advanced the furthest in using modern digital channels are technology, media, finance and professional services," Matt James, global brand president at Zenith, said. "And even within these, brands still rely on traditional media to create broad mass awareness and reinforce brand values." 

Yet, it seems traditional media is continuing to dwindle, with ad revenues of printed newspapers and magazines dropping from a peak of $164bn (£131bn) in 2007 to $70bn this year. Alongside this comes a small decline in broadcast TV – something Zenith predicts will fall from $184bn in 2018 to $180bn in 2021. 

Overall, Zenith forecast global adspend to grow by 4.6% this year (slightly lower than March’s 4.7%) to reach $639bn – a $28bn increase from last year. Of this increase, almost half ($13bn) will come from the US, where internet advertising is forecast to grow at 15.4%, compared with a global average of 11.7%. China is trailing, boasting $4bn in extra adspend, followed by the UK and India with $1bn each in extra adspend.

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