Global ad spend to pass $1 trillion in 2024 – report

Global advertising spend is on course pass the $1 trillion (£788.6 billion) mark for the first time in 2024, following growth of 4.4 per cent this year and a further 8.2 per cent in 2024, according to a new study from WARC.

The analysis, published today, for the first time combines data from WARC’s proprietary survey of media owners, industry bodies, ad agencies and research organisations in 100 markets worldwide, with ad revenue data from 40 of the largest media owners.

The data show that just five companies – Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Bytedance and Meta – will attract over half (50.7 per cent) of global spend this year, and will consolidate that position into 2024 with a share of 51.9 per cent. Ad revenue among this group is expected to rise 9.1 per cent this year and 10.7 per cent next year, while ad revenue among all other media owners combined will be flat this year.

A resurgent social media market – a fifth of all spend – will drive growth into 2024, though emerging channels such as retail media and connected TV (CTV) – measured for the first time in this study – are also poised to see increased investment from brands over the coming 18 months.

“High interest rates, spiralling inflation, military conflict and natural disasters have made for a bitter cocktail over the preceding 12 months, but the latest earnings season shows that the ad market has withstood this turbulence and has now turned a corner,” said James McDonald, Director of Data, Intelligence and Forecasting, WARC, and author of the study. “Our new measurements show how the fortunes of just five companies have a major bearing on the prospects of the industry at large, and that these companies are on course to record oversized gains in the coming months.

“With the establishment of retail media as an effective advertising channel, the advent of connected TV as the next evolution of conventional video consumption, and the continued growth of social media and search, we are seeing once again the value advertisers place in leveraging first party data to target the right message to the right person at the right time”.

Market growth in 2024 will be boosted by the US Presidential campaign (political spend is estimated to reach $15.5bn globally next year); sporting events such as the Olympics and UEFA Men’s Euros; and improved trading conditions – particularly in China.

The forecasts suggest social media will be the fastest-growing medium, with spend rising to a total of $227.2bn next year – 21.8 per cent of total spend. Meta – owner of Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp – controls almost two-thirds (64.4 per cent) of the social media market, with expected ad revenue of $146.3bn next year. TikTok owner Bytedance then follows, though estimated ad revenue of $39.9bn in 2024 equates to a 17.6 per cent share, some 3.5 times smaller than Meta. 

Retail media will also be among the fastest-growing advertising channels over the forecast period. Spend on retail media is set to rise 10.2 per cent this year and 10.5 per cent next year to a total of $141.7bn – 13.6 per cent of all spend. Within this, Amazon is the dominant player, with an expected share of 37.2 per cent of all retail media spend equating to $52.7bn next year. While Amazon grows its share, Alibaba, the Chinese incumbent, is losing ground to Pindoudou (14.4 per cent of global retail media spend next year); (9.9 per cent); and Meitaun (3.7 per cent) in an increasingly competitive Chinese market.

Connected TV (CTV) is also projected to grow well this year (+11.4 per cent) and next year (+12.1 per cent), reaching a total of $33bn – only 3.2 per cent of all spend but 16.2 per cent of premium video spend (CTV and linear TV combined). CTV media owners are mostly competing for existing TV budgets rather than winning share of spend from digital channels like social, or accessing new budgets such as retail media. It only took retail media 10 years to grow tenfold, and in the same time, the size of the CTV ad market has only grown three-fold, according to WARC Media’s latest Global Ad Trends report.

Increased spend on CTV will not be enough to offset declining spend on linear TV (-5.4 per cent) this year, though political and sporting events are set to boost linear TV spend by 3.5 per cent in 2024. Linear TV is still the world’s third-largest advertising medium, with an expected share of 15.6 per cent, equating to advertiser spend of $163.0bn in 2024. 

Elsewhere, search is on course to grow to a total of $229.2bn in 2024, equivalent to 22 per cent of all advertising spend at that time. Google will remain the dominant player, with an 83.1 per cent share of the search market in 2024, up from 82.6 per cent in 2023 and equal to $190.5bn in ad revenue. China’s Baidu will see its ad revenue rise modestly, but its share dip to 6.5 per cent next year, while Bing’s share of the search market is set to hold at 6 per cent despite revenue growing to $13.6bn next year.

Outdoor (+7.3 per cent), cinema (+5.2 per cent), and audio (+3.3 per cent) are also set to see advertiser spend increase next year, though losses are expected among publishing media (-1.9 per cent), including a 1.6 per cent dip for news brands and 2.5 per cent fall for magazine brands.

Financial Services (+11.5 per cent), Technology & Electronics (+11.3 per cent) and Pharma & Healthcare (+11.0 per cent) are forecast to be the fastest-growing consumer sectors next year. Political spend is expected to reach at least $15.5bn in 2024.

From a regional perspective, the US is forecast to account for 31.3 per cent) of global spend; the US market is forecast to rise 2.2 per cent to $303.6bn this year then a further 7.6 per cent to $326.7bn in 2024.

Ad spend in Europe is set to rise just 0.6 per cent this year, before the rate of growth increases to 3.6 per cent in 2024 as economic headwinds ease. Prospects are more challenging in central and eastern Europe though, while the UK – the largest single ad market in the region with a 4.6 per cent share – is set to see a dip of 1 per cent this year when measured in US dollars. Spain (+5.6 per cent in 2023), Italy (+3.2 per cent) and Germany (+2.7 per cent) are all expected to record growth this year and next.  

The Middle East is among the smallest regions (just 0.7 per cent of global spend) but is anticipated to be the fastest-growing over the forecast period, with spend up 10 per cent in 2023 and 6.2 per cent in 2024, by when the ad market will be worth $6.9bn.

Spend in South Asia is also growing rapidly (+8.9 per cent this year, +12.1 per cent next year), buoyed by a strong Indian market. Ad spend in India is forecast to grow by double digits over the next 18 months to reach a total of $13.7bn in 2024 – 1.3 per cent of global spend.

Southeast Asia is forecast to grow 4.8 per cent this year and 4.6 per cent in 2024, with Singapore (+9.1 per cent in 2023 and +5.0 per cent in 2024) and Indonesia (+5.1 per cent and +7.8 per cent, respectively) growing faster than the wider region and consequently gaining share. Growth will be recorded across all major markets in the region, including Thailand (+4.5 per cent in 2023), Malaysia (+3.4 per cent) and the Philippines (+3.2 per cent).

Conversely, Africa is enduring a difficult year, with spend set to be down 11.6 per cent. Growth should return in 2024, however, buoyed by a 6.1 per cent rise in South Africa next year. Growth is also set to be muted in Latin America this year (+0.8 per cent) before the rate of expansion increases in 2024 (+5.2 per cent).