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Tough European Economy Lowers Expectations for World Ad Market

Global spend reaches $535.5 billion

Ad spending around the world passed the half-trillion-dollar mark last year, eMarketer estimates, with spending in North America and Asia-Pacific accounting for well over half of the total.

Growth was solid in 2012, at 5.4%, up from just 3.8% growth in 2011. This year, growth will continue at a similar 5.2% pace to reach $535.5 billion, and annual increases will hover between 4.4% and 5.5% throughout the rest of the forecast period, before spending hits nearly $650 billion in 2017.

eMarketer is relatively distinct in its methodology for global ad spending. The company forms its forecasts through an analysis of various elements related to ad spending—including macro-level economic conditions, historical trends of the advertising market, estimates from other research firms, investment banks and other forecasters, and consumer media consumption trends—at a country and regional level before building its worldwide model.

In this case, eMarketer analyzed more than 500 data sets from over four dozen companies that track ad spending, looking at more than 29 countries and six major regions worldwide, to form its forecast.

eMarketer has lowered its estimates of worldwide total media ad spending slightly since our last forecast in December 2012, when we predicted advertisers would spend closer to $520 billion that year.

The revision comes as figures from major media buyers, research firms, and investment banks—whose ad spending estimates are each tracked and evaluated by eMarketer based on their respective methodologies, definitions and historical accuracy—suggest that spending levels in certain markets remain lower than expected. Most of this decline is due to lowered estimates for spending in Europe, where continued economic and currency concerns are giving consumers—and therefore brands—pause. The weakening of the euro and updated exchange rates also contribute to the changes.

Western Europe still accounts for the third-largest share of ad spending in the world, however, and is far ahead of fourth-place Latin America by this metric. North America and Asia-Pacific will continue to lead in share throughout the forecast period, with Asia continuing to close the gap in spending between that region and North America.

The highest growth in ad spending will occur in Latin America, where brands will increase ad spending by double-digit percentages throughout the forecast period. Central and Eastern Europe, along with Asia-Pacific, will round out the top three growth regions for advertisers worldwide. North America and Western Europe, by contrast, will continue to grow ad spending at below-average levels, leading to a loss in share over the coming years.


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