4 Graphs That Illustrate How Facebook and Google Dominate Ad Revenue

    by Kunal Gupta
    September 26, 2016
    Stock image.

    The following piece is a guest post from Kunal Gupta, the CEO of Polar. Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this publication. Read more about MediaShift guest posts here.

    Our industry faces a well-known duopoly, with Facebook and Google commanding an ever-increasing share of digital ad spend, both in the U.S. and globally. I recently dug into the data and forecasts available, to better quantify (for my own benefit and hopefully yours!) just how much Facebook and Google are eating digital.

    Global ad spend to reach $674 Billion

    Global ad spend, across all channels (digital, TV, print, radio, outdoor, etc.) is growing annually on average by 5.6 percent from 2015 to 2020, and will reach $674 Billion from $513 Billion in 2015.


    The U.S. market will represent 35 percent of the global ad market, reaching $234 Billion by 2020 with a slightly slower growth rate compared to the global average, at 5.0 percent from 2015 to 2020. This is expected as rapidly developing markets in the East and a growing middle class represent new markets on which advertisers can focus.

    45% of U.S. ad spend will be digital

    33 percent of ad spend in the U.S. was digital last year and that is expected to reach 45 percent by 2020. In real numbers, that’s a $60-billion market growing to $105-billion, with a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.9 percent.


    The growth of digital is more than 2 times higher than the growth of the overall ad market, which represents a tremendous opportunity for digital businesses. More people are accessing content online and more advertisers are spending their budgets online. Will the rising tide lift all ships?

    Mobile ad spend to reach $77 Billion

    Ad spend on mobile will grow 141 percent from the $32 billion spent last year to $77 billion forecasted to be spent by 2020. And this is only in the U.S. That’s an impressive CAGR of 25 percent. The industry has talked about the “year of mobile” for over a decade; however, now we are going to see real revenue growth.

    Because the growth of mobile ad spend is more than 2 times that of digital growth – and about 5 times that of the overall market growth – mobile will be 73 percent of all digital ad spend by 2020, up from 53 percent last year. How many digital businesses can say that they are pacing to have three-fourths of their revenue come from mobile over the next few years?

    Facebook and Google will have 71% of mobile ad spend

    Fifty percent of mobile ad spend in the U.S. was with Google and Facebook in 2015, and it will be 71 percent by 2020. That’s $54 billion of the $77 billion spend on mobile in the U.S. going to 2 companies, which is up from the modest $16 billion they generated combined last year from mobile in the U.S. market.

    This estimate was done by looking at eMarketer data, which has broken out both Facebook and Google’s ad revenue by platform and geo. I took their U.S. mobile ad revenue from 2015 to 2017 and applied the same growth rate (26.0%) from 2017 to 2020. So the above forecast assumes that their growth rate stays constant. I feel this is a reasonable estimate given that the relative accelerated growth rate they are experiencing as of late may be offset by the absolute revenue figures we are talking about ($16 billion to $54 billion over a 5 year period).

    A third player?

    The good news is that the overall ad market – digital as a share of that, and mobile as a share digital – are all growing. Digital advertising is a growing market, and it’s always good to be building a business in that situation.

    The not-so-good news is that Facebook and Google are growing at faster rates than the industry, which means they will have an even more dominant market-share and the advantages that come with that unique position.

    I do think we will see a third player – and possibly a fourth – emerge over the next few years, providing marketers with an alternative to the duopoly that is quickly dominating their digital plans. The playbook for this has to be anchored on mobile and video. A few (obvious) companies come to mind, but many of the new digital entrants are considered one-trick-ponies who have a killer feature or two on which they hinge their success.

    What we do know is that everything changes, and in this industry, a little faster than we appreciate or realize. The third player may not be an obvious one.

    Kunal Gupta is the Founder & CEO of Polar. He leads a talented team transforming the media publishing industry with technology. He is passionate about leadership and finding focus in a modern era. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Medium or Twitter.

    Tagged: digital revenue facebook google polar revenue

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