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February 22, 2023

Print ad revenue halves in six years as three tech giants make $400bn annually

Amazon, Alphabet and Meta are estimated to take $4 in every $10 spent in the global ad market.

By Charlotte Tobitt

The global print advertising market has halved in the past six years but a growing online “oligopoly” of tech giants and retailers mean digital ad revenues are still insufficient to plug the gap.

Global advertising revenue for publishers is forecast to decline by 7.7% this year to $47.2bn, according to a new report from intelligence provider Warc which estimated a total worldwide advertising market of $993bn.

Publishers are competing with the likes of Amazon, which alone made $37.7bn in advertising services in 2022 – 80% of the entire forecast publisher advertising income for the year ahead, and more than the total print publishing market of $37.3bn.

In addition to Amazon, Google owner Alphabet and Facebook and Instagram owner Meta together take more than $4 in every $10 spent on advertising in any format around the world (so nearly $400bn in total).

Amid the growing dominance of the tech giants, global spend on publishing, video, audio and out-of-home advertising has “scarcely shifted”, Warc said, estimating that total investment will be only 1.6% higher this year than it was in 2016.

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At the same time, the global publishing print ad market has halved since 2016, from $75.9bn. Report author and Warc Media head of content Alex Brownsell said: “For newsbrands and magazines, modest increases in digital ad revenue have been insufficient to compensate for print ad income losses.”

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Alphabet, Amazon and Meta’s dominance of the global advertising market. Picture: Warc Media

That digital ad revenue is also insufficient to help publishers become sustainable, Warc said: “It is becoming harder for content-creating publishers to remain competitive against data-rich performance channels like retail media, and sustain publishing businesses through online display revenue alone…”

Brian Morrissey, media analyst and author of Substack newsletter The Rebooting, told the report: “The reality of the publishing industry is that you really cannot have an original content model that is mostly or solely reliant on display advertising revenue.

“Publishers were complaining about Google and Facebook having a duopoly. Well, be careful what you wish for, because now it’s an oligopoly.”

Press Gazette began campaigning against Facebook and Google’s duopoly in 2017, warning that their dominance in the digital advertising market was threatening journalism’s ability to thrive and even survive.

The Warc report suggested publishing’s middle market dependent on advertising will continue to be squeezed but that niche publishers such as influential politics titles Punchbowl News and Politico can build a robust offering.

Cally Baute, executive vice-president of consumer business at Politico, said: “If we can sit in the complete centre of the bullseye – that you need Politico to do your job better if you work in government or the business of government – that creates opportunity on the advertising side of the business.”

The report noted that “advertising remains an attractive, high-margin source of revenue, meaning media owners are evolving their operating models to survive”. For example, it cited streamers like Netflix creating cheaper ad-supported tiers alongside subscription revenue, suggesting ads may be a vital part of the overall pie for companies in pursuit of profitability despite the difficulties of the market.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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