Global ad spending will increase by 4.6% this year to reach US $579 billion, predicts Zenith in its latest forecast [pdf], with this representing an upward revision from the previous forecast of 4.1% that marks the largest quarterly upgrade in 7 years. One thing’s for sure: mobile is the primary engine of ad spending growth.

In fact, Zenith predicts that mobile will contribute $72.6 billion to the global ad economy between 2017 and 2020. That’s actually more than the total amount of new money ($71.8 billion) to be invested in advertising over that time span!

How is that possible? To some extent it’s because mobile will be cannibalizing ad spending from the desktop internet, which is forecast to see a decrease in expenditure of close to $2.4 billion from 2017 to 2020.

But mainly it’s because when subtracting mobile from the equation, the other media are net negative in spend. In other words, declines forecast for desktop internet, magazines and newspapers collectively are larger than the increases predicted for TV, outdoor, cinema and radio.

To put it into context, the increase in mobile ad spend is projected to be more than 10 times higher than the increase for TV advertising (~$6.9 billion), which is the next-largest growth contributor. When singling out just the media that will see spending growth, the tally shows that mobile will account for roughly 84% of the combined increases.

Add it all up and mobile internet ad spending is projected to increase from 19.8% of global spending in 2017 to 29.3% share in 2020. At that point, it will rival TV (31.2% share) as the largest single advertising medium. (The internet as a whole – desktop and mobile combined – has already surpassed TV globally.)

Within the US, a recent forecast called for mobile to account for half of advertising spending by 2022.

Other Forecast Highlights

In other notable predictions from Zenith’s report:

  • China, the Philippines, Argentina and Ireland are the main reasons for the upward revision in ad spending this year;
  • The US (+$19.7 billion) will be the top contributor of ad spend growth between 2017 and 2020, but China (+$16.9 billion) will be close behind;
  • The US remained the largest advertising market in the world last year ($197.5 billion), with its total larger than the next 6 largest countries, combined;
  • Online video and social media are expected to each grow by 17% per annum from 2017 through 2020;
  • Mobile is expected to account for almost two-thirds (65.6%) of internet ad spending by 2020; and
  • Audiovisual advertising overall – combining TV and online video – should cement its dominance in worldwide display advertising, rising to 48.8% of all display spending by 2020, up from 43.6% in 2010.
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