Social media spend leapfrogs print as third largest ad channel

Tyrone Stewart

More is now being spent on social media advertising than newspapers and magazinesSocial media will overtake print ad spend for the first time this year, becoming the third largest channel for advertising, according to the latest forecasts from Zenith.

Social media spend will grow 20 per cent to reach $84bn, while the combined spend on newspapers and magazines will slide six per cent to $69bn. This will give social media a 13 per cent share of global ad spend, placing it behind television (29 per cent) and paid search (17 per cent).

 It’s predicted that growth will slow to 17 per cent in 2020 and then 13 per cent in 2021, at which point it will account for 16 per cent of the market.

“Social media advertising gives brands the opportunity to drive growth by using automated tools to optimise their campaigns for key business objectives,” said Matt James, Zenith’s global brand president. “By using first-party data from their own websites to identify potential customers on social media, brands can convert consumers who are already on the path to purchase and target look-a-like audiences more effectively.”

In another first, paid search will exceed $100bn this year, reaching $107bn. By 2021, it will account for 18 per cent of total ad spend and amount to $123bn.

Zenith forecasts that the US ad market will contribute 48 per cent of new ad dollars this year and will grow at a rate of 5.7 per cent. On the other hand, Western Europe will only grow 1.9 per cent this year, a decline in Zenith’s 2.4 per cent prediction in June, while Central & Eastern Europe is expected to grow 4.7 per cent compared to the 6.1 per cent originally expected. These forecasts are also way down on the growth experienced in 2018 of four per cent and 9.6 per cent respectively.

The Asia Pacific region will also experience slowing growth, down from 6.9 per cent in 2018 to 4.4 per cent this year. At the same time, China will still be the second biggest contributor to global ad growth, representing 14 per cent of new ad dollars.

Overall, ad spend is expected to reach $640bn this year, growing 4.4 per cent, which is down slightly on the 4.6 per cent predicted in June. This growth is expected to remain stable at 4.3 per cent in 2020 and 4.4 per cent in 2021.

“We have slightly downgraded our expectations for 2019 amid a marginally weaker trading environment,” said Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting at Zenith. “But growth should then remain steady out to 2021, powered by the robust US advertising market.”