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U.S. Digital Advertising Spend Expected to Outpace TV Ad Spend This Year


It was only a matter of time: U.S. digital ad spend will finally outpace TV ad spend this year, according to an updated forecast by eMarketer. The market research company has just announced its latest projections, changing its previous forecast from March that said digital wouldn’t take the lead until 2017.

Here’s what eMarketer is projecting:

  • U.S. digital ad spend: $72.09 billion (representing 36.8% of total media ad spending)
  • U.S. TV Ad spend: $71.29 billion (representing 36.4% of total media ad spend)

Part of what makes this new projection remarkable: Digital is expected to take the lead despite the fact that 2016 is considered an especially strong year for TV ad spend, with higher spending being driven by the presidential election, the Olympics, and other factors. And digital’s lead won’t stop there—digital advertising is expected to leave TV advertising spend in the dust in the coming years. According to eMarketer’s latest recent forecast, digital ad spend is expected to reach $113.18 billion in 2020, while TV ad spend is only expected to reach $77.93 billion.

Mobile & Video Steal the Show

So what’s driving all this growth? eMarketer says it’s a combination of mobile and video advertising. The market research firm reports that mobile will make up over a third of all media advertising spend in the U.S. by 2019. Here are eMarketer’s projections for mobile and video…

  • Mobile: $45.95 billion in ad spend in 2016 (representing 45% growth this year)
  • Video: $10.30 billion in ad spend in 2016 (representing double-digit-percentage growth)

This is no big shock, considering that more than half of all Google searches now occur on smartphones and video traffic is expected to make up over 80% of consumer Internet traffic globally by 2020.

What Can Digital Ads Do That Traditional Ads Can’t?

There are plenty of reasons to consider digital advertising for your business or organization. First, there’s the fact that consumers are increasingly relying on the Internet—both on desktops and smartphones—to find local businesses and services. According to Google study, 4 out of every 5 consumers turn to search engines to find information about local products and services. Advertising online helps your business or organization stay visible in the places where consumers are already looking.

Here are a few things you can do with digital advertising that you can’t do with traditional advertising:

  • Show your ads to a targeted audience rather than a more general population—With search ads, your advertisements are shown to users who type in specific keywords, as well as those who meet other targeting criteria (location, device used, time of search, etc.) With display ads, you can target specific and industry-relevant website placements, and you can also target your audience based on online behaviors, geographic location, ages range, and more. In contrast, television ads are shown to a much broader audience who may or may not be a good match for your services.
  • Easily track how your audience is engaging with your ads—Track metrics such as ad impressions (views), clicks, click-through rates, conversions, etc. With this type of in-depth reporting, you get a better idea of how well your ads are performing, from how many people are seeing the ads to how many people are actually taking action. You can even use performance data to learn more about your users’ interests. For example, on YouTube, you can see a user’s “view path” on your channel after they watch your ad—specifically which videos they watched and how much time they spent viewing each one.
  • Make changes as you go—Unlike traditional forms of advertising, you can update your digital ad campaigns whenever you want. This allows you to optimize your campaign as you go, which helps you improve your results over time. The flexibility of digital ads also allow you to perform A/B testing, or testing two different versions of an ad to see which one performs better.
  • Better control your costs—Internet advertising tends to be more cost-effective than traditional advertising. In addition to lower costs, Internet advertising provides easier engagement tracking of engagement levels and performance metrics (discussed above), which help guide decisions about your future digital ad spend.

Is your business or organization taking advantage of everything that digital advertising has to offer? If you aren’t currently advertising on the Internet, or if you want to find out how you can improve your Internet advertising strategy, contact Scorpion. The experts at our online marketing company would be happy to assist you.