Search’s Share of Global Digital Ad Spend Plateaus

December 6, 2019

Accounting for more than one-fifth (22%) of every ad dollar spent, search advertising continues to be an expanding market –  but its growth has slowed. As a result, search advertising’s share of internet advertising spend appears to be leveling off, per the Global Ad Trends report [download page] from WARC.

Search is expected to account for just less than half (46%) of internet advertising spend this year, but this represents the lowest share in 10 years. Indeed, search’s share of digital ad spend appears to have flattened over the past couple of years. The same trend can be seen with US search advertising. The IAB and PwC report that although search advertising grew by 19.2% year-over-year (y-o-y) in 2018, this growth rate was below that of other online advertising formats and has led to search’s share of US online advertising dropping slightly.

Similarly, global search advertising growth is predicted to slow, with the forecast rate of 9.6% this year (to reach $135.9 billion) being well below last year’s growth of 16.9%. WARC’s figures are more bullish than data recently released by Zenith, that has global paid search passing the $100 billion mark for the first time this year. While this can be due to a number of factors including different methodologies and markets covered, they both agree that global search advertising spending has surpassed $100 billion.

Mobile Search Spend Increases

Mobile search will account for almost two-thirds (64.8%) of total global search spending this year, reaching $88.1 billion, for a y-o-y increase of 19.2%. More than two-fifths (43.0% share) of this total is from US mobile search advertising, which is predicted to reach $38.1 billion in 2019.

Per the report, in the past, mobile’s share of global spending on search has steadily grown along with its share of search traffic. However, this is no longer true. Although mobile search’s share of ad spend has continued to increase, its share of search traffic seems to have plateaued.

To some extent, the same can be said of the US and China markets. Although mobile’s share of ad spend and its share of search traffic in those countries are both growing, mobile’s allotted ad spend is increasing a quicker rate.

Finally, the report states that Google’s share of mobile search traffic across the globe stands at an impressive 95.4%. In the US (94.4%) and the UK (97.9%) Google is also the dominant recipient of mobile search ad dollars while in China, Google’s share of mobile search advertising is close to 0%.

More information can be found here.

About the Data: Figures are based on WARC data from their International Ad Forecast and Adspend Database.

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