Executive Summary: Advertising Expenditure Forecasts March 2016

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Executive Summary: Advertising Expenditure Forecasts March 2016

ZenithOptimedia predicts global ad expenditure will grow 4.6% in 2016, reaching $579 billion by the end of the year. This will be a 0.7 percentage point improvement on 2015: 2016 is a ‘quadrennial’ year, when ad expenditure is boosted by the Summer Olympics, the US presidential election and the UEFA football championship in Europe. The global ad market has enjoyed stable growth since 2011, with growth rates ranging between 4% and 5% a year; we expect it to maintain this pace for the rest of the forecast period.

exec summary 1Source: ZenithOptimedia/IMF


Since the December 2012 edition of our forecasts we have looked at the growth rates of different regional blocs defined by the similarity of the performance of their ad markets as well as their geographical proximity. This captures the behavior of different regional ad markets more effectively than looking at regions defined purely by geography, such as Western Europe, Central & Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific. See the end of the Executive Summary for a complete list of countries by bloc.

exec summary 2exec summary 3Source: ZenithOptimedia

Western & Central Europe

For several years the ad markets at the periphery of the eurozone were by far the worst performing in Europe. Between 2007 and 2013, ad spend fell 29% in Italy, 38% in Ireland, 43% in Portugal, 47% in Spain and 62% in Greece. However, the last four began to make strong recoveries in 2014. Greece’s recovery went into reverse in early 2015 as the government geared up to confront its creditors, but over the rest of our forecast period we expect Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain to outperform the average rate for Western & Central Europe, admittedly from their much-reduced base levels. We forecast Greece grow at an average 3.9% a year between 2015 and 2018, while Ireland grows by 7.5% a year, Portugal by 4.5% a year and Spain by 6.9% a year.

Meanwhile, France is lagging behind with weak business confidence and household consumption. We forecast French ad spend to grow only 0.8% a year on average between 2015 and 2018. This will be the slowest growth rate in the region, on par with Bosnia & Herzegovina. Other slow growth markets include Slovenia (1.1% growth a year to 2018), Finland (1.4%), Switzerland (1.4%), Italy (1.6%), the Czech Republic (1.7%) and Austria (1.8%)

Outside the eurozone, the stand-out ad market in Western & Central Europe is the UK, which is currently booming thanks to the rapid adoption of internet advertising. We predict UK ad spend will grow 9.2% in 2016, and at an average of 6.1% a year to 2018.

We expect growth in the UK and the peripheral eurozone markets to counterbalance the weaker markets, allowing Western & Central Europe to grow at an average of 3.5% a year between 2015 and 2018.

Eastern Europe & Central Asia

Eastern European advertising markets, such as Russia and Turkey, generally recovered quickly after the 2009 downturn and continued their healthy pace of growth, largely (though not entirely) unaffected by the problems in the eurozone for the next four years. Their near neighbors in Central Asia, such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, have behaved very similarly, so we have gathered them together under the Eastern Europe & Central Asia bloc. This bloc grew 11.4% in 2013.

The conflict in Ukraine severely disrupted the domestic ad market, while Russia has suffered from sanctions imposed by the US and the EU, the sanctions it imposed in response, and a withdrawal of international investment. These shocks have been exacerbated by a sharp drop in the price of oil – which accounted for 70% of Russia’s exports in 2014 – and devaluation of the Ukrainian and Russian currencies. These problems then spread to Belarus, whose main trading partner is Russia by some distance. In 2015, ad spend shrank by 45% in Ukraine, 28% in Belarus and 9% in Russia. Russia ad market proved more resilient than we feared, and having avoided collapse in 2015 is poised to stage with a mild recovery in 2016. We forecast 2% growth in Russia this year, and 15% growth in Belarus, but a further 3% decline in Ukraine.

Overall we expect ad spend in Eastern Europe & Central Asia to grow by just 2.5% in 2016, a poor performance by historic standards, but we forecast growth to pick up to 7.6% in 2017 and 8.8% in 2018. By 2018, we think this will be the fastest-growing of all our regional blocs, ahead of even Fast-track Asia.


Japan behaves differently than other markets in Asia, allowing it to be treated separately. Despite recent measures of economic stimulus, Japan remains stuck in its rut of persistent low growth. We forecast average ad spend growth of 1.8% a year between 2015 and 2018, the same rate that Japan has achieved over the last five years.

Advanced Asia

Apart from Japan, there are five countries in Asia with developed economies and advanced ad markets that we have placed in a group called Advanced Asia: Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. We estimate growth here at a disappointing 2.8% in 2015, as Singapore has continued to suffer from a weak property market, and slowdown in China and other emerging markets has hit exports from all markets. We expect growth in Advanced Asia to average 2.2% a year through to 2018.

Fast-track Asia

We characterize the rest of Asia as Fast-track Asia (China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam). These economies are growing extremely rapidly as they adopt Western technology and practices, while benefiting from the rapid inflow of funds from investors hoping to tap into this growth. Fast-track Asia barely noticed the 2009 downturn (ad expenditure grew by 7.9% that year) and since then has grown very strongly, ending 2015 up an estimated 9.2%. However, the Chinese economy – the main engine of growth in Fast-track Asia – is finally starting to slow after years of blistering growth, and the ad market is slowing down alongside it. China accounts for 74% of ad spend in Fast-track Asia, so its slowdown naturally has a large effect on the region as a whole. We expect ad expenditure in Fast-track Asia to grow 8.9% in 2016, and at an average rate of 8.5% a year between 2015 and 2018, down from 11.9% a year between 2010 and 2015.

We have not changed the definition of North America, Latin America or the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) in this analysis.

North America

North America was the first region to suffer the effects of the financial crisis, but it was also quick to recover, and ad spend in North America was more robust than in Western & Central Europe between 2012 and 2015. We think this will change in 2016 as the European markets most affected by the eurozone crisis continue to recover rapidly, while declining network television ratings erode US ad spend growth. We forecast 3.6% growth in North American ad spend in 2016, compared to 4.1% in Western & Central Europe, and an average of 3.1% growth a year in North America between 2015 and 2018.

Latin America

Latin America’s economies are more volatile than those of Fast-track Asia, but lately it has been restrained by low prices for oil and other export commodities, and recession in Brazil and Venezuela. We estimate that Latin American ad spend grew by 3.0% in 2015, well down on the 5.3% average rate for the last five years. The 2016 Summer Olympics, hosted by Brazil, should boost growth to 4.5% in 2016, but we forecast a mediocre 2.7% average annual growth rate between 2015 and 2018.


The drop in oil prices in 2014 has had a severe effect on the economies in MENA, and has prompted advertisers to cut back their budgets in anticipation of lower consumer demand. Political turmoil and conflict have further shaken advertisers’ confidence in the region. We forecast an 11.1% drop in ad spend in MENA this year, followed by further declines of 5.0% in 2017 and 1.1% in 2018, averaging out at a 5.8% annual decline to 2018.

exec summary4Source: ZenithOptimedia

The various blocs can be roughly divided into three groups: MENA, which is in rapid decline; Eastern Europe & Central Asia and Fast-track Asia, which are growing rapidly; and all five other regions, which are enjoying steady growth of 2%-3% a year.


We forecast China to be the leading contributor of new ad dollars to the global market between 2015 and 2018, taking over from the US for the first time ever. In 2015, China’s ad market was only 41% the size of the US’s ad market, but grew 2.4 times faster. Over the next three years China will maintain this growth disparity, and rise to 46% of the size of the US. Between 2015 and 2018 we expect the global ad market to grow by $75 billion. China will contribute 25% of this extra ad expenditure, closely followed by the US, which will contribute 24%. The UK comes third, contributing 7%, and Indonesia fourth, contributing 5%.

Five of the ten largest contributors will be Rising Markets*, and between them they will contribute 38% of new ad spend over the next three years. Overall, we forecast Rising Markets to contribute 56% of additional ad expenditure between 2015 and 2018, and to increase their share of the global market from 37% to 40%.

exec summary 5Source: ZenithOptimedia

The ranking of the world’s largest ad markets is currently very stable. The only change we expect between 2015 and 2018 is for Indonesia to displace Canada as the tenth-largest ad market.

exec summary 6Source: ZenithOptimedia


The internet is still the fastest growing medium by some distance. We estimate that internet ad spend grew 19% year on year in 2015, and we forecast an average growth rate of 13% a year between 2015 and 2018. We estimate that internet advertising accounted for 29.5% of global ad expenditure in 2015, up from 25.8% in 2014. By 2018, we expect internet advertising to attract 37.6% of all global advertising, after overtaking television to become the world’s largest advertising medium in 2017.

exec summary 7Source: ZenithOptimedia

Display is the fastest-growing internet sub-category, with 15% annual growth forecast to 2018. Here we include traditional display (such as banners), online video and social media. All three types of display have benefited from the transition to programmatic buying, which allows agencies to target audiences more efficiently and more effectively, with personalized creative. For traditional display this transition is slowing down, at least in the biggest markets, and we forecast average annual growth of 6% a year between 2015 and 2018. Online video and social media continue to grow much faster – we forecast annual growth of 21% and 23% respectively over the same period. The amount of time consumers spend watching online video is growing by 17% a year, and content producers are working hard to address the scarcity of premium content. Meanwhile, social media is benefiting from its rapid transition to mobile and the introduction of new, engaging ad formats, such as Facebook’s full-screen Canvas ads.

We expect paid search to grow at an average rate of 12% a year to 2018, driven by continued innovation from the search engines, such as personalizing search results, automatically matching search terms to content available on advertiser websites, and enhancing local and real-time search. The latter including integrating advertiser data into search results to improve the customer experience – telling consumers how long it will take to walk to the advertiser’s stores, for example, and how long they can expect to wait to be served.

Online classified has been subdued since the downturn in 2009; after the initial shift from print to digital, classified publishers have had to compete with new paid-for and free alternatives for matching buyers and sellers. We forecast average annual growth of 8% for the rest of our forecast period.

Looking at internet ad spend by device reveals the dramatic ascent of mobile advertising (by which we mean all internet ads delivered to smartphones and tablets, whether display, classified or search, and including in-app ads). We estimate that mobile advertising grew 72% in 2015, and we forecast an average annual growth rate of 32% a year between 2015 and 2018, driven by the rapid spread of devices and improvements in user experiences. By contrast, we forecast desktop internet advertising to grow at an average of just 2% a year.

We estimate global expenditure on mobile advertising at $50 billion in 2015, representing 31.3% of internet expenditure and 9.2% of total advertising expenditure (this total excludes a few markets where we don’t have a breakdown by medium). By 2018, we forecast mobile advertising to grow to $115 billion, fractionally behind desktop’s $116 billion total. Mobile will account for 49.6% of internet expenditure and 18.7% of all expenditure.

exec summary 8Source: ZenithOptimedia

Since it began in the mid-1990s, internet advertising (both desktop and mobile) has principally risen at the expense of print. Over the last ten years, internet advertising has risen from 6% of total global spend (in 2005) to 29% (in 2015). Meanwhile, newspapers’ share of global spend has fallen from 29% to 13%, while magazines’ has fallen from 13% to 6%. Print titles will continue to lose market share as their readership continues to decline, and either move to online versions of print brands or other forms of information and entertainment entirely. We predict newspapers and magazines will continue to shrink at average rates of 4% a year between 2015 and 2018, ending with 10% and 5% market shares respectively.

Note that our figures for newspapers and magazines include only advertising in printed editions of these publications, not on their websites, or in tablet editions or mobile apps, all of which are picked up in our internet category. The performance of print editions does not wholly describe the overall performance of newspaper and magazine publishers.

Television is currently the dominant advertising medium, attracting 37% of total spend in 2015. As mentioned earlier, however, we now expect the internet to overtake television to become the largest medium in 2017. Looking at the ad market as a whole, including search and classified, we think television’s share peaked at 39.5% in 2012, estimate it at 37.2% in 2015, and expect it to fall back to 34.1% by 2018.

However, one of the reasons for television’s loss of share is the rapid growth of paid search, which is essentially a direct response channel (together with classified), while television is the preeminent brand awareness channel. Television does not compete directly against search, and indeed the two can complement each other, for example by running paid search activity to take advantage of the increase in searches driven by a television campaign. Taking internet classified and search out of the picture, television will remain the principal display medium for many years to come. We estimate television accounted for 44.2% of display expenditure in 2015, and will attract 42.3% in 2018.

If we consider audiovisual advertising as a whole – television plus online video – we see that it is in fact gaining share of display advertising. Television offers unparalleled capacity to build reach, while online video offers pinpoint targeting and the potential for personalization of marketing messages. Both are powerful tools for establishing brand awareness and associations. We estimate that audiovisual advertising accounted for 48.0% of display advertising in 2015, up from 43.9% in 2010, and expect its share to reach 48.5% in 2018.

exec summary 9Source: ZenithOptimedia

Mobile is by some distance the main driver of global ad spend growth. We forecast mobile to contribute a full 92% of all the extra ad spend between 2015 and 2018 (again excluding markets where we don’t have a breakdown by medium). Television and desktop internet will be the second and third-largest contributors respectively, accounting for 10% and 9% of new ad expenditure respectively. Outdoor, radio and cinema will contribute another 7% between them. These proportions add up to more than 100% because these gains will be offset by declines in newspaper and magazine ad spend, which we expect to shrink by a combined $13 billion over the forecast period.



List of countries included in the regional blocs

North America: Canada, USA

Western & Central Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK

Eastern Europe & Central Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan


Advanced Asia: Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea

Fast-track Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela

Middle East & North Africa: Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE

*We define Mature Markets as North America, Western Europe and Japan, and Rising Markets as everywhere else

Advertising Expenditure Forecasts is published quarterly priced £495. It may be ordered in hard or soft copy from www.zenithoptimedia.com

For further information, please contact:

Jonathan Barnard
Head of Forecasting
Tel:         +44 20 7961 1192
Fax:        +44 20 7291 1199
E-mail: jonathan.barnard@zenithoptimedia.com

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