MASTERCLASSING

China leads the way in GroupM global ad spend rankings

David Murphy

GroupM, WPP’s media investment group, has updated its 2018 and 2019 ad investment forecasts, downgrading 2018 growth expectations from 4.5 per cent to 4.3 per cent. 2019 growth projections are also cut from 3.9 per cent to 3.6 per cent, with total new investment anticipated to reach $19bn (£15bn) instead of the $23bn earlier predicted. . The company said that recent US dollar appreciation versus just about every other currency helped suppress this growth.
Stress on the auto category stood out in feedback from GroupM’s worldwide network, as did the absence of any rebound in CPG investment with traditional media. GroupM forecasts that ten countries will provide 83 per cent of all 2019 growth.

“GroupM’s still strong but slightly fraying 2018 view ties to macro questions: tighter money, China’s slowing growth, and the potential for pricey trade wars,” said GroupM futures director, Adam Smith. “Real interest rates are edging up globally, but serious potential problems remain limited to a fragile five - Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey and Venezuela.”

China remains the largest contributor, but 2019 will be its sixth successive year with single-digit ad growth and will mark its lowest growth rate yet recorded. Still, its $90bn ad market is second only to the US, and has doubled since 2010. Despite rapid consumerization, China’s advertising intensity peaked at 0.78 per cent of GDP in 2006 and has trended down to a prospective 0.67 per cent in 2019.

Ranked second, the US is experiencing good macroeconomic indicators such as lower unemployment and improved consumer confidence, but increasing energy prices, rising interest rates, and low unemployment have many concerned about the potential for increased inflation, on top of a yawning deficit. Marketers continue to scrutinize digital investment with emphasis on verification and value, GroupM notes.
Ranked third, India is expected to contribute $1.35bn of growth. This is roughly the same as Australia, Russia and Brazil’s combined growth, even though India’s total ad economy is a mere quarter of the others’ combined heft. India’s 14 per cent ad investment growth is rooted in 7 per cent real consumer spending growth.

Japan is ranked fourth. Japanese advertising has tracked ahead of its GDP in the post-Lehman cycle with media spending per capita picking up sharply since 2016. The 2020 Olympics and a surge in biddable media are powering tailwinds, but a 2019 consumption tax rise from 8 per cent to 10 per cent, added to Japan’s belated confrontation with value, viewability and verification in digital supply chain are foreseeable headwinds.
A resilient UK is fifth. Despite fears of Brexit calamity and consumer fatigue, advertising investment remains propelled by massive advertising digitization (61 per cent of predicted investment in 2019), and GroupM’s UK forecast remains buoyant. This is partly because of the market’s characteristic flexibility. In an emergency, advertisers know they can turn off the tap.

“Worldwide advertising investment grows slowly, but marketing has never moved faster,” said GroupM CEO, Kelly Clark. “Automation proliferates; cycles accelerate; talent grows more mobile. The gap between the cost of failure and the value of success grows wider. For advertisers, this underscores the importance of a world view and trusted partners who can help their brands perform where the growth can be found.”