For the first time ever, digital will account for half of all global ad spending this year according to new data from eMarketer. The research firm is calling for a 17.6% increase in digital investment, to an estimated US$333.2 billion.
Digital is already the dominant advertising channel in several countries including Canada, the U.K., China and Norway, with the U.S. and the Netherlands set to join that group this year.
Google remains the undisputed champion of digital advertising, raking in 31.1% (US$103.7 billion) of all global investment this year, followed by Facebook (US$67.4 billion) and the Chinese company Alibaba (US$29.2 billion).
The report notes that while Amazon has been “steadily chipping away” at the Google-Facebook duopoly in the U.S., it will remain a “smaller player” globally, with a comparatively small US$14 billion in ad revenue.
The rise of digital doesn’t mean that advertisers will neglect traditional channels, however, as they start to explore ways to harness both online and offline channels to more closely mirror how their audiences consume media. It’s part of what eMarketer describes as a “larger trend of convergence within the total marketing and advertising landscape.”
The report quotes Brad Simms, president and CEO of the global business agency Gale Partners, as saying there is a real opportunity for brands to tell “sequential stories” across different media channels.
“They’re starting to think about how to build interesting narratives about their brand, instead of just hammering people with the same message over and over again,” he said.
There are inherent challenges to the approach, however, with the report quoting a 2018 Salesforce survey noting that 28% of marketers worldwide feel that websites, mobile apps and video advertising are “siloed” within their organization. That number was even higher for emerging channels like voice assistants and mobile messaging.
The Salesforce report also noted that 32% of marketers dynamically coordinated their messages across channels in 2018, up from 28% the previous year. It’s confirmation that marketers are “actively working toward coordinated cross-channel engagement,” said the eMarketer report.