Global ad spend growth accelerates as total heads toward $572bn this year

Tim Maytom

New projections by WARC, the international marketing intelligence service, suggest that global ad spend growth is set to accelerate this year, boosted to 4.7 per cent by a number of factors, including the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, US mid-term elections, the FIFA World Cup and reduced dollar volatility in emerging markets.

According to WARC's figures, global ad spend rose three per cent in 2017, hitting $546bn (£391bn). This represented a slowdown from the 3.8 per cent rise in 2016, and was partially due to weaker growth in the US. However, this year is set to see growth once again speeding up thanks to improved economic conditions and several global-scale media events.

The 2017 figures show ad spend growth in the US slowing from eight per cent in 2016 to 3.3 per cent, while growth in the second-largest ad region, Asia-Pacific, also cooled off, dropping to 4.3 per cent from 5.3 per cent in 2016. This was primarily due to slow growth in Japan as a result of a weaker Yen, with growth in the Chinese ad market expanding to 4.7 per cent, propelled by big increases on mobile.

Looking at projections for 2018, strong growth is expected in mature markets like North America (five per cent), Asia-Pacific (six per cent) and Western Europe (2.6 per cent), while growing regions like Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America are even stronger, at 8.4 per cent and seven per cent, respectively. Ad spend in the Middle East and Africa are expected to continue to dip, shrinking by 4.1 per cent, but this represents a slower decrease than previous years.

The 2017 figures also revealed that mobile is the only medium to gain share of global advertising spend in 2017, and now represents the world's second-largest ad channel. Mobile's share grew by an estimated 5.9 percentage points to 20.6 per cent in 2017, the equivalent to $112bn in ad spending. Mobile is also thought to have overtaken desktop internet, which dropped 1.9 percentage points year-on-year. TV, print, out-of-home and radio also all saw decreases.

"2018 should be a stellar year for global advertising, with ad investment set to grow at its strongest rate since the post recovery years of 2010 and 2011," said James McDonald, data editor at Warc. "All global regions, with the exception of the Middle Easty, are expected to register growth, supported by key quadrennial events notably the Winter Olympics in South Korea, the FIFA World Cup in Russia and the US mid-term elections.

"Mobile is now a key driver of global growth, and was the only channel to gain share of spend in 2017 – it now accounts for one in five ad dollars worldwide. Nevertheless, traditional media still attract 61 per cent of global ad investment, and TV and out-of-home will be among the main benefactors of increased brand and political campaign spending this year."