Mobile ad spend to hit $165.7bn in 2019: WARC

David Murphy

Global ad spend will rise by 4.3 per cent this year, pushing total investment to over $616bn (£471bn), according to according to WARC's latest Global Ad Trends report, published today. This follows a 5.4 per cent rise in 2018 – the strongest growth since 2011. Mobile will account for $165.7bn of that figure, making it the largest ad channel across WARC's 12 key markets.

Despite healthy top line growth, the research suggests that total internet ad spend – inclusive of desktop, mobile and tablet – will decline by 7.2 per cent this year if the revenues doing to Google and Facebook are excluded.

Conversely, ad income for the two online giants is expected to rise 22 per cent to $176.4bn, equating to a combined share of 61.4 per cent of the online ad market, up from 56.4 per cent in 2018.

"While advertising investment is stable at the top line level – maintaining a 0.7 per cent share of global GDP since 2011 – the market's undercurrents have changed dramatically in recent years,” said James McDonald, data editor at WARC, and author of the research. "The amount of ad money available to online publishers beyond Google and Facebook is now in decline, and the repercussions are potentially far-reaching, with several high-profile announcements of job cuts seen among online publishers already this year.

"Print publishers have already been severely hit by the migration of ad dollars online, and while traditional media excluding print have fared admirably to date, their collective take of ad investment is also trending downwards."

The internet is the driving force in global advertising growth, with spend expected to rise 12.1 per cent to $287.4bn worldwide this year. This would give the internet a 46.7 per cent share of media spend globally, but in the US – the world's largest ad market – the internet is expected to account for 54 per cent of all media spend for the first time this year.

Within overall internet ad spent, mobile ad spend is expected to rise 21.9 per cent to reach $165.7bn in 2019, making it the second-largest ad channel worldwide across 96 markets. However, across WARC's 12 key markets – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, US – mobile is predicted to overtake TV to become the largest ad channel this year.

Globally, TV will remain the largest single advertising medium in 2019, attracting $195.5bn, though this represents a 1.3 per cent dip from 2018. Despite this, TV spend will have grown 0.4 per cent each year on average since 2011.

Print continues to lose share, with a further dip of 9.5 per cent predicted in 2019. Legacy news publishers, in particular, are feeling the impact, with many looking to diversify their businesses to make up for lost ad revenue.

Out of home (OOH) is benefitting from the increasing penetration of digital sites in advanced markets, with digital out of home (DOOH) expected to account for all of the 2.3 per cent growth in OOH this year, as it already does in the UK.

Elsewhere, radio ad spend is forecast to grow 1 per cent to $32.5bn this year, following on from a 1.2 per cent rise in 2018. Cinema is expected to be the only ad channel other than mobile not to lose share of global advertising spend this year; cinema spend is expected to rise 7.7 per cent to $4.7bn.

The Global Ad Trends report is part of WARC Data, a dedicated online subscription service featuring current advertising benchmarks, data points and trends in media investment and usage.