Global advertising spend 2020: Five tech companies dominate the market

Quintopoly? Five tech companies now earn 46% of global ad revenues as news media left behind

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Five tech companies today account for nearly half of the world’s advertising revenue, a report has found.

Google, Facebook, Alibaba, TikTok owner Bytedance and Amazon generated ad sales of $296bn last year – making up 46% of the market.

By contrast, in 2010, the top five companies – Google, Viacom/CBS, News Corp/Fox News, Comcast and Disney – accounted for 17% of the market with $70bn in revenues combined.

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The figures are contained within the latest edition of ‘This Year, Next Year’, a global advertising spend report produced by GroupM, which is part of WPP.

The report also created a list of the top 25 global media owners, ranked by advertising revenues (see full ranking below).

There is no place in the top 25 for News Corp, although Fox News (which was part of the old News Corporation group) is in 15th place.


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The top 25 list is dominated by technology companies, which have grown rapidly in recent years, often at the expense of traditional media companies like News Corp, Fox, Comcast, Verizon, ViacomCBS and RTL.

Google and Facebook – known as the Duopoly in media and advertising circles – made combined ad revenues of $219m in 2020, claiming 34% of the total market. Five years before, in 2016, they sold $101bn of ads – or 19% of the global total.

[Read more: The News 50: Tech giants dwarf Rupert Murdoch to become the biggest news media companies in the English-speaking world]

One of the major trends charted by GroupM is the rise of Chinese tech company ad revenues.

Already well established back in 2016, Alibaba has tripled its ad turnover over the past five years.

TikTok owner Bytedance, meanwhile, has grown from less than $1bn in 2016 to $28bn last year. Others, like Pinduoduo and Kuaishou, have risen from virtually nothing in 2016 into the top 25 ranking.

Commenting on the market change between 2010 and 2020, the report said: “Among the key differences to point out when comparing these periods, we note that in 2010, Google was the only seller among the largest media owners with sizable operations in most major global markets.

“The others on that list were massive in only a handful of markets, primarily the United States. For all their influence globally, at the time, most of the industry’s largest companies only had a minimal global presence in terms of their ad sales operations.

“By contrast, today, the largest sellers of advertising are either focused primarily on China or have a significant presence in most countries on the planet.

“Both Google and Facebook are the largest and second-largest in almost every individual market outside of China, while Amazon is a solid number three in many places.”

Picture credit: Shutterstock



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