In the US, Mobile Ad Spend Forecast to Rival TV by 2020

March 15, 2016

eMarketer-US-Media-Ad-Spend-Share-2014-2020-Mar2016The headline news from a recent eMarketer forecast is that digital is expected to overtake TV next year in US ad spending. However such forecasts have been made for quite some time now, with the only deliberation being about exactly when that shift will come. Instead, hidden in the eMarketer forecast appears to be a more impressive projection: mobile alone will rival TV in ad spend in 2020.

While forecasts going out several years can sometimes be revised quite significantly, the projections speaks to the impressive growth of mobile advertising, which in 2014 occupied only an estimated 10.9% share of US media ad spending. That has already more than doubled to an estimated 22.7% share this year, and is now forecast to grow to 32.9% in 2020. The almost one-third of all media ad budgets would equal the 32.9% forecast for TV. (TV advertising is expected to be slightly higher in terms of absolute dollars – the equal percentage share is due to rounding.)

Another way of looking at mobile’s growth: this year mobile’s 22.7% expected share of media ad budgets is greater than print (13.9%) and radio (7.4%) combined. By 2020, mobile is predicted to capture a considerably greater share of US media ad budgets than print, radio, out-of-home and directories, combined.

Last year, meanwhile, mobile captured the majority of digital ad budgets for the first time, per eMarketer’s estimates. By 2020, it is projected to occupy almost three-quarters of digital ad budgets. To paraphrase Marc Andreessen’s popular quip, it looks like mobile is eating the digital ad world. (It’s already there when it comes to Facebook ad spending.)

Here is the above chart again, but this time without breaking out mobile and non-mobile digital media, in order to show digital media’s ascent over TV next year:


It’s worth noting, though, that ad spending might be following consumer media consumption shifts more so than advertising influence. TV ads influence far more consumers to make a purchase than video or display ads, though social media ads (primarily consumed today on mobile devices) are second to TV among Millennials. That’s according to MarketingCharts’ ongoing research into the forms of advertising that US consumers believe most influence their purchases. The results could be a reflection of a greater exposure to TV ads than video ads, rather than a greater degree of efficacy, though, as research presents conflicting views on the relative efficacy of these media.

Returning to the eMarketer forecast, some other points of note include:

  • Magazines overtaking newspapers in ad spending in 2019, primarily on the basis of a slower decline in ad spend;
  • Spending on non-mobile digital advertising overtaking print in 2019; and
  • Out-of-home’s share of media advertising spending declining at a slower rate than most traditional media (save for TV), as a result of continued volume growth.

It’s important to note that while traditional media formats are expected to decline in share of total ad spend, that doesn’t mean that spending dollars will decline. That’s due to continued growth in overall media ad spending, which eMarketer predicts will increase from $192 billion this year to $234.3 billion in 2020. So while TV’s share of total ad spend will decline during that time frame, the amount of dollar spending  on TV is expected to grow from $70.6 billion to $77.2 billion.

Finally, despite long-running reports of TV ad budgets moving to digital video, TV ad spending in 2020 will still vastly outweigh digital video ad spending ($77.2 billion and $16.7 billion, respectively), per eMarketer’s forecast. And within digital, the shift to mobile will not be quite as rapid with video, as desktop/laptop video ad spending will still slightly top mobile video ad spending at the end of the forecast period.

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