Will Amazon, Alibaba eat the bigger slice of the advertising pie?

By Dr. Merja Myllylahti

Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

Auckland, New Zealand


Something eMarketer co-founder Geoff Ramsey said at the INMA World Congress got me thinking. He said the growth in digital media advertising spending has been “phenomenal” with the global market growing almost by 18%. As the digital ad market expands, new threats are emerging.

Ramsey warned news companies need to watch out for Amazon, which has “US$11.3 billion in ad revenue and they have a ton of transactional data. Retailers are now becoming media companies, so that’s new competition.”

Digital ad spending continues to grow, but which companies stand to benefit remains to be seen.
Digital ad spending continues to grow, but which companies stand to benefit remains to be seen.

There is no doubt the boundaries between traditional news companies and retailers are blurring. Amazon and Alibaba are expanding their muscle in the media market, especially in video on-demand streaming services. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, and Amazon is making considerable strides to compete with Netflix and Apple on the streaming video market with its Amazon Prime service. Alibaba’s media assets include Alibaba Pictures, Youku (a video-sharing Web site), and the South China Morning Post.

According to eMarketer’s report, China-based Alibaba (US$29 billion) has already become the third-largest digital ad seller behind Google (US$104 billion) and Facebook (US$67.4 billion). While Google still controls 31% of worldwide ad spending, others are starting to catch up. What is left to others, and where is the growth coming from, I wonder.

Where is the growth coming from?

While researching information for my upcoming conference presentation, I started to browse information about the digital and print advertising markets and where they are heading. It was a surprisingly tricky task.

I came across a new study called “2019-2025 Online Advertising Platform Market Global Key Player, Demand, Growth, Opportunities, and Analysis Forecast.” While the research title was promising, the publicly available extract of the report did not enlighten me. The blurb of the report states that in 2018, the global advertising platform market size was xx million US$ and was expected to reach xx million US$ by the end of 2025. Well, that is not massively helpful.

According to Zenith, Internet advertising will grow 10% a year up to 2021, boosted by video and social media. Jonathan Barnard, who is the company’s head of forecasting and director of global intelligence, notes “the speed of Internet ad spend growth continues to surprise us. Internet advertising will exceed a quarter of a trillion dollars for the first time this year.”

Zenith expects Internet advertising to reach US$329 by 2021, with online advertising accounting for 49% of all global advertising spend. The market research firm estimates the United States will gain most of the online advertising followed by China and India.

All is not lost for print

So, what is the role of mobile and print in the advertising market? eMarketer forecasts that one-third of the worldwide advertising dollars will go to mobile this year. The company estimates mobile advertising spend will reach US$232 billion.

At the INMA World Congress, Juan Señor suggested there is still value in print, that print is “haute couture and digital as pre-a-porter” of journalism. Yes, print still delivers ad revenue.

A report by Research and Markets shows that, in 2018, the value of the print advertising market was US$98 billion. The research firm notes “print advertising still accounts for a significant share in the global advertising market as a large portion of the global population still subscribes to newspapers and magazines.”

All is not lost, yet.

About Dr. Merja Myllylahti

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