Forecast: Global ad spend to top $1tn in 2024
August 24, 2023
A study from WARC, the experts in marketing effectiveness, forecasts that global advertising spend is on course to grow 4.4 per cent this year and a further 8.2 per cent in 2024, by when expenditure will have topped $1 trillion (€0.92tn) for the first time.
The analysis combines data from WARC’s proprietary survey of media owners, industry bodies, ad agencies and research organisations in 100 markets worldwide with advertising revenue data from 40 of the largest media owners to offer a complete picture of advertising trade.
The data shows 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. Advertising 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.
James McDonald, Director of Data, Intelligence and Forecasting, WARC, and author of the research, commented: “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. 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”.
Key findings outlined in WARC’s Global Ad Spend Outlook 2023/24: Withstanding Turbulence are:
The forecasts suggest Social Media will be the fastest-growing medium, with spend rising to a total of $227.2 billion next year – a fifth (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 $146.3 billion next year. TikTok owner Bytedance then follows, though estimated ad revenue of $39.9 billion 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; here spend is set to rise 10.2 per cent this year and 10.5 per cent next year to a total of $141.7 billion – 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 $52.7 billion 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), JD.com (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 $33 billion – 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 billion in 2024.
Elsewhere, Search is on course to grow to a total of $229.2 billion in 2024, equivalent to 22.0 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 $190.5 billion 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 $13.6 billion 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 Newsbrands and 2.5 per cent fall for Magazine Brands.
An analysis of spend by product sector shows that Financial Services (+11.5 per cent) is on course to be the fastest growing sector in 2024, followed by Technology & Electronics (+11.3 per cent) and Pharma & Healthcare (+11 per cent) – a TV stalwart but for which digital formats now attract over half of spend.
Products within consumables sectors are expected to record solid growth into 2024, with most now focusing more dollars on retail media platforms. Food (+7.5 per cent in 2024), Household & Domestic (+7.8 per cent), Nicotine (+9.3 per cent) and Soft Drinks (+8.1 per cent) are all anticipated to record increased advertising investment. While less prevalent in retail media settings, Clothing & Accessories products should still see a 7.4 per cent rise in advertising investment next year.
More muted growth is expected among the largest grouping – Retail – this year and next, proportional to the pressure consumers are facing in North America and Europe through high inflation. The Business & Industrial sector – the second-largest monitored by WARC – is forecast to record an increase (+6.9 per cent) next year however as trading conditions become more favourable, while the Automotive sector is also poised to grow well (+4.7 per cent in 2024) after a period of decline due to supply-side issues.
Within service sectors, rises in advertising spend are expected next year within the Media & Publishing sector (+3.3 per cent) – which includes companies such as Netflix – as well as Leisure & Entertainment (+3.9 per cent) and Telecoms & Utilities (+10.4 per cent).
Finally, Political spend is already tracking well ahead of the 2020 cycle and should reach a new high of at least $15.5 billion next year, owing mostly to US Presidential campaigns.
Taken together, advertiser spend across North America is forecast to rise 2 per cent this year and 7.6 per cent next year, in line with the largest market – the US.
Advertising 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 $6.9 billion.
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 $13.7 billion 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 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)