U.S. Advertising Spending To Reach Almost A Quarter Of A Trillion Dollars In 2019

The U.S. advertising market is expected to grow 6.2 percent in 2019 to $244 billion. This growth forecast, from advertising media firm GroupM, will mark a fourth consecutive year of solid mid-single-digit growth for the industry. The firm also forecasts four percent growth for 2020.

The company notes that when directories and direct mail are not counted, the health of the industry looks even stronger, with a 7.6 percent growth rate for 2019. However, leveling out political advertising year-to-year brings overall growth down to 3.8 percent. Regardless, growth is outpacing the general economy, which is showing signs of gradual deceleration. Looking to 2020, GroupM expects further softening as the economy normalizes after a period of growth supported by factors including the 2017 domestic tax cut, an expanding federal deficit and low interest rates. As the effects of these fade, heightened trade barriers should concurrently become a drag on the overall economy. The 2020 Olympics will likely provide some benefits, although the company notes that it can be difficult to identify the degree to which Olympic activity captures spending that would already have occurred or if it causes incremental spending to flow into the advertising market.

Digital-first marketers are likely driving much of the industry’s recent growth, GroupM says. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet, eBay, IAC, Uber and Booking.com are eight companies that are likely to spend more than $30 billion on advertising globally this year, with most of that going into the U.S. market. The next tier of digital native advertisers, such as Wayfair, Chewy.com or any of the digitally-oriented companies spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising annually, will likely add additional percentage points of growth.

Advertising revenue from pure-play internet-based companies should reach $127 billion in revenue next year, representing fully half of the industry. GroupM forecasts digital pure-play media (i.e., excluding digital revenues associated with traditional media owners) will end 2019 with a 20 percent increase, and rise by 13 percent in 2020.

The company predicts that the rapid growth from digital marketers should abate and eventually normalize. While this would contribute to industry-wide ad spending deceleration, the U.S. is more likely to produce more of these kinds of marketers in years ahead than are most other economies, and so there is reason for a degree of optimism. For example, GroupM expects the new and existing streaming video services to account for multiple billions of dollars in domestic advertising spending by the time these services are all operating at scale.

Overall, GroupM’s best “feel” for the advertising market is to forecast a lower growth rate beyond 2021, and it is incorporating a three percent expectation for subsequent years.

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