The global ad market is on course for 4.6% growth this year, up from 3.9% growth last year, according to ZenithOptimedia’s new Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, published today. Global advertising expenditure will total US$579bn in 2016, and will exceed US$600bn in 2017, reaching US$603bn by the end of the year.

The global economy faces clear challenges – such as the ongoing slowdown in China, and recession in Brazil and Russia; the humanitarian disaster originating in Syria; and uncertainty over the future of the European Union, notably continuing fragility in Greece and the possible departure of the UK. But advertisers’ confidence has remained largely unshaken, and our forecasts for global growth in 2016 have barely changed since we published our last forecasts in December (when we forecast 4.7% growth this year). There are three main reasons why we are optimistic about the prospects for global adspend growth: special events this year, rapid recovery from the markets most affected by the eurozone crisis, and the emergence of rapidly growing markets that are now opening up to international advertising.

Quadrennial to lift ad growth by US$6.1bn
In the short term, 2016 is a quadrennial year, when ad expenditure is boosted by the US presidential elections, the Summer Olympics and the UEFA football championship in Europe. We expect these events to add a net US$6.1bn to the global ad market in 2016 (US$3.2bn from the elections, US$2.0bn from the Olympics and US$0.9bn from the football). The quadrennial will therefore add 1.1 percentage points to this year’s growth rate for global advertising expenditure, which would otherwise be 3.5%.

Crisis‐hit European markets now enjoying rapid recovery
In the medium term, most of the European ad markets that suffered the deepest cuts from the financial crisis and its aftermath are now enjoying sustained recovery and will expand rapidly over the next few years. Adspend in Ireland, Portugal and Spain adspend fell by a total 45% between 2007 and 2013. Adspend in these markets recovered by 8.9% in 2014, however, and 7.3% in 2015, and we forecast average growth of 6.7% a year to 2018. Other European markets that fell sharply during the crisis but are now growing at a rapid pace include Croatia (forecast to grow by 6.1% a year to 2018), Denmark (7.3%), Hungary (5.2%) and Romania (6.3%). Even Greece is expected to enjoy annual growth of 3.9%. These markets have room to growth rapidly for several years to come: after all, they have a lot of ground to make up.

ZenithOptimedia identifies Thirty Rising Media Markets with long‐term potential for rapid growth
In the longer term, many smaller advertising markets are now opening up to international advertising, and have the potential to growth at double‐digit rates for many years to come. ZenithOptimedia today also publishes a new report, called the Thirty Rising Media Markets, which looks at a selection of 30 up‐and‐coming markets for the first time. Our regular Advertising Expenditure Forecasts report surveys 81 key advertising markets across the world. For the Thirty Rising Media Markets we decided to look a bit further and identify advertising markets that are developing quickly and are starting to rival the scale of some of the established 81 markets. We estimate that advertising expenditure across these 30 markets totalled US$7.7bn in 2015.

These 30 markets vary widely in nature: in size of population, openness to international business, diversity of economic activities, productivity, and geographically – 16 of our markets are in Africa, seven in Asia, six in Latin America and one in the Middle East. What they share is that their economies are growing rapidly in the long run, and that their advertising markets are growing even faster. We forecast advertising expenditure in these 30 markets to grow at an average rate of 15% a year between 2015 and 2018 – more than three times faster than global average – and to increase by US$3.9bn (a sum equal to the current size of Sweden’s ad market) to US$11.6bn. Advertising accounted for 0.37% of GDP across these 30 markets in 2015, well below the global average of 0.70%, highlighting their long‐term growth potential.

Internet will now overtake television next year
As usual, internet advertising is the main driver of global adspend growth. We expect internet advertising as a whole to grow at more than three times the global average rate this year – by 15.7%, driven by social media (31.9%), online video (22.4%) and paid search (15.7%). Internet advertising’s growth rate is slowing as it matures (it was 21.1% in 2014), but we expect it to remain in double digits for the rest of our forecast period. This sustained growth, combined with downgrades to television in Brazil in China, has led us to forecast internet advertising to overtake television advertising globally in 2017, a year earlier than we forecast back in December.

Mobile to contribute 92% of adspend growth
The great majority of new internet advertising is targeted at mobile devices, thanks to their widespread adoption and their ever‐tighter integration into consumers’ daily lives. We forecast that mobile advertising expenditure will increase by US$64bn between 2015 and 2018, growing by 128% and accounting for 92% of new advertising dollars added to the global market over these years (not including those markets where we do not have a breakdown of advertising expenditure by medium).

“Rapid growth from countries that are relatively new to the international advertising market, combined with a resurgence of established markets that were damaged by the financial crisis, will keep the global ad market on track for healthy growth for at least the next few years,” said Jonathan Barnard, Head of Forecasting at ZenithOptimedia.

*The 30 countries included in the Thirty Rising Media Markets are: Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Paraguay, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

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