Online advertising is expected to reach 52 percent of global ad spend in 2021, according to Zenith’s June 2019 Advertising Expenditure Forecast which covers 84 markets. That growth, up 47 percent this year and 44 percent in 2018, is reported to be largely the result of small, local business utilizing Google and Facebook self-serve ad tools to implement highly targeted campaigns that manage themselves. Larger brands are investing heavily in online advertising, yet the majority continue to commit their budgets to traditional media.

Despite the prediction that internet advertising will exceed half of the global ad expenditure, Zenith notes that the growth rate is falling quickly as the internet ad market matures. Online ad spend is only expected to see 12 percent growth for 2019 as a whole, compared to 17 percent growth in 2018. As internet ad markets begin to converge with the growth rate of the market as a whole, internet growth spend will likely fall to nine percent YoY by 2021, the data suggests.

Fueling the growth in internet ad spend is online video and social media, which are expected to grow at 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively, in 2021. Zenith attributes these channels’ success to ongoing technological advancements in ad targeting and delivery, and smartphone technology. 

A TVSquared study found that direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are seeing an uplift in television ad response, however, Zenith reports that traditional television ad revenues will shrink every year from now until 2021, declining from $184 billion in 2018 to $180 billion in 2021.

“TV still remains an indispensable part of most advertisers plans and campaigns. We expect advertisers to continue spending higher portions of their budget in digital as time goes on. As traditional TV’s reach is falling, you can’t get the same effects,” said Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting at Zenith.

Comparatively, other forms of traditional media are growing at more steady rates. Out-of-home advertisers are increasing their digital display networks thereby contributing to four percent annual growth in their revenues. Meanwhile, radio is increasing its ad revenue by one percent annually while cinema is growing at 12 percent a year.