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Social media ad spend set to surpass print Blog Feature

October 16th, 2019 min read

According to the latest Zenith forecast, social media ad spend is expected to grow 20% this year and surpass print ad spend for the first time in history. The report predicts that ad spend on print sources (newspapers and magazines) will drop 6%.

Accounting for 13% of global ad-spend, social media is now the third-largest medium for advertising, behind paid search (17%) and television ads (29%). With a growth rate of 8% per year, paid search is expected to exceed $100 billion for the first time, while television global ad-spend is shrinking.

Small businesses and digital brands drive ad growth

The Zenith report states that the US holds nearly half of the market share for global ad spend and is expected to contribute 48% this year. This growth is largely attributed to small and digital businesses that have taken advantage of the advanced localization and targeting capabilities of digital platforms.

The decline of print ads

Despite five consecutive years of growth in magazine readership, the industry has lost nearly half its yearly revenue over the past ten years. This may be due to print advertising losing popularity in favor of digital mediums.

The relevance of print ads is debated among marketing professionals. Some believe that print ads will continue to hold value, while others argue that it's a thing of the past. The arguments supporting print are compelling, pointing to the potential of print to bypass the digital ad blindness and ad blockers known so well to digital marketers.

It is worth noting that "print ads" includes things like direct mail, postcards, brochures, and banners as well.

What makes social media so attractive to advertisers?

Social media platforms can collect vast amounts of information from their users. The combination of the platform's data, social research tools and techniques, and existing customer data make it easier for brands to target ads to local and niche markets.

The interactive nature of social platforms presents a unique opportunity for businesses to grow their brand image and connect with customers at more of a personal level. Social media presents an opportunity to build trust, loyalty, and long-term relationships between brands and customers.

Because of this, advertisements on social networks can be geared toward selling, engagement, or building an audience, rather than just selling.

Although social media ad-spend should surpass print, its growth is expected to slow in the coming years. Social platforms actually experienced a decline in active users from 2018 to 2019. Exceptions include Instagram, which experienced no change, YouTube, which grew by one percent, and Reddit, which grew by four percent.

Other changes in ad trends

Ad spend for paid search is expected to grow 8% per year and account for 18% of total ad spend by 2021, according to Zenith.

There are more than 77,800 Google searches performed every second, and paid search ads should come to figure even more prominently.

Television ad spend is expected to lose 2% of its market share by 2021. Streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, and DVRs, which allow users to fast-forward through commercials, present a challenge for television advertisers.

A study from the Journal of Advertising Research found that "DVRs accounted for more than 25 percent of all advertisement views from dramas." The study suggests that "Time-sensitive advertisements might appear in sport or reality programs with fewer delayed views."

What this means for digital marketers

According to the Zenith report, social media and paid search are continuing to grow while print and television ads are declining. In a digitally-connected world and in the age of the internet, customers engage more in online settings.

Businesses should position themselves accordingly.

Additionally, paid search continues to play a critical role in advertising. You can take advantage of Google ads and pay-per-click advertising to fuel short and long-term growth. Paid searches lead customers to landing pages, sales pages, or shopping pages. When done well, this can be a crucial element of your marketing strategy.

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