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US Total Media Ad Spend Inches Up, Pushed by Digital

TV remains top ad medium in the country

eMarketer expects US advertisers to spend $171.01 billion on paid media this year, up 3.6% over 2012 spending levels, according to our most recent forecast of US ad spending.

The 3.6% growth rate will be down somewhat from last year’s 4.3% increase, attributable largely to boosts from the Summer Olympics and a national election season. Spending growth for 2014 will be up, with help from the Winter Olympics, midterm elections and the FIFA World Cup, as growth rates hover between 3.1% and 4.1% for the rest of the forecast period.

eMarketer expects TV to continue to capture the largest share of paid ad spending in the US for the foreseeable future, though its percentage of total spending will drop slightly, from 39.1% in 2012 to 38.8% this year and 38.2% in 2017, as spending on TV ads grows more slowly than spending on paid media as a whole.

Digital media will gain the most share during the forecast period, rising from 22.3% of total spending in 2012 to nearly a quarter this year and 31.1% by 2017. Mobile alone will grow ad spending even more quickly than digital as a whole; mobile is expected to account for 15.8% of all ad spending by 2017, or $31.1 billion.

Among digital formats, video remains the fastest-growing—though still from a small base compared to giants like search or banners. And even with the rapid rise of digital video viewership and ad spending, levels of spending on online and mobile video fall far below spending on TV. Even by 2017, eMarketer expects digital video spending to reach only around one-eighth of what is spent on television ads.

eMarketer forecast in June 2013 that total media ad spending would be up 3.4% this year to $170.69 billion. The upward revision to the forecast was primarily a result of upward revisions to expected spending on mobile advertising this year.

eMarketer bases its forecast of US ad spending on the analysis of various elements related to the ad spending market, including macro-level economic conditions; historical trends of the advertising market; historical trends of each medium in relation to other media; reported revenues from major ad publishers; estimates from other research firms; consumer media consumption trends; and eMarketer interviews with executives at ad agencies, brands, media publishers and other industry leaders.


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