Visualizing the Evolution of Global Advertising Spend (1980-2020)
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Visualizing the Evolution of Global Advertising Spend (1980-2020)

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Visualizing the Evolution of Global Spend (1980-2020)

The Evolution of Global Advertising Spend (1980-2020)

Marketers may still “sell the sizzle” and not the steak, but shifts in the media landscape and consumer behavior mean that advertisers must constantly adapt their media strategies.

In the above infographic from Raconteur, we can take a closer look at how global advertising spend has evolved over recent decades across the media sphere.

The Media Landscape Shapes the Ad World

In advertising, dollars go where the eyeballs are.

Recently, all eyes have been on the digital realm—a trend that coincided with the disastrous fall of the print industry. As people mass-migrated to digital platforms in the 2010s, marketers were hot on their heels, and the fall of print media began.

In 2014, TV ad spend met a similar fate, peaking at nearly $250 billion. However, despite its rather sharp decline, TV still remains the largest in terms of global advertising spending.

The demise of the newspaper is shown dramatically in the above graphic, beginning in 2007 before the financial crisis, and correlating with the ascent of search engine ad spend. Peaking at $125 billion before the social media boom, newspaper advertising has never recovered.

Winners in a Digital World

In less than five years, internet ad spend nearly doubled: $299 billion was spent on global internet advertising in 2019 compared to $156 billion in 2015.

Reaching $160 billion in one year, digital display advertising—a broad category including banner ads, rich media, advertorial and sponsorship, online video and social media—accounted for the largest global ad expenditure in 2019.

Comparing all digital display ad spend in isolation with TV and newspaper, we can see the continued significance of the shift to digital, and how it’s projected to continue.

global spend

Looking at the main visualization, it’s clear that budgets have shifted, with digital channels now accounting for more than half of total advertising spend.

Although digital spending is up across the board, search engine ad spend began to plateau in the late 2010s, while social and ecommerce mediums both continue to rise. Impressively, between 2012 to 2020, the percentage of U.S. senior marketing budgets allocated to social media more than doubled, ballooning from almost 9% to nearly 21%.

“People share, read and generally engage more with any type of content when it’s surfaced through friends and people they know and trust”

– Malorie Lucich, Head of Product & Tech Communications, Pinterest

Advertisers aren’t the only ones spending money online. More than $183 billion is expected to be spent online by consumers as a result of the 2020 pandemic.

Screen Life: Time is Ad Money

It’s not only that people have shifted their focus from analog to digital. They are also spending many of their waking hours in front of a screen.

  • Adults in the U.S. spend an average of 11 hours a day in front of a screen, and the ad dollars that vie for our digital attention are also rising.
  • Globally, the daily average of time spent online was almost 7 hours during the pandemic, up from 3.2 hours at the beginning of lockdowns.

As a result of COVID-19 lifestyle shifts, time spent watching digital video is expected to increase. According to eMarketer, digital video spiked among UK adults during the pandemic—to 2.75 hours, and almost by 30 minutes daily in total video and TV screen time.

Smartphone Boom: From Big Screens to Small

Social media and digital ad spend also corresponds with a steady uptick in global smartphone ownership and usage.

In February of 2019, for instance, 81% of U.S. residents owned a smartphone. By 2024, it’s expected that 291 million Americans (almost 90%) will be using a smartphone.

us smartphone users

In China, smartphone usage has almost doubled in 5 years—and is predicted to surpass 3.4 hours a day by 2022. Statista estimates there will be 1.13 billion smartphone users in China by 2025, making up nearly 14% of the world’s population by 2025.

As billions of users spend hundreds of hours with their small screens every year, it’s possible that mobile-based ad spend—including uber-popular apps like TikTok—will become even more commonplace.

The Digital Future is Now

As a result of the pandemic, it is projected that global advertising spending could fall by 8.1% this year. However, 53% of all global ad spend is expected to flow online. And the rise of search, social media, video, ecommerce—in contrast to TV and print—becomes clearer.

Although search ad spend recently plateaued, its rise over the last decade has been dramatic. With digital content consumption doubling since the pandemic began, the growth of social, e-commerce, and search ad spend are likely to continue.

If these trajectories are any indication, advertising budgets will only be getting more digital.

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How Big Tech Revenue and Profit Breaks Down, by Company

How do the big tech giants make their money? This series of graphics shows a breakdown of big tech revenue, using Q2 2022 income statements.

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In the media and public discourse, companies like Alphabet, Apple, and Microsoft are often lumped together into the same “Big Tech” category. After all, they constitute the world’s largest companies by market capitalization.

And because of this, it’s easy to assume they’re in direct competition with each other, fiercely battling for a bigger piece of the “Big Tech” pie. But while there is certainly competition between the world’s tech giants, it’s a lot less drastic than you might imagine.

This is apparent when you look into their various revenue streams, and this series of graphics by Truman Du provides a revenue breakdown of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.

How Big Tech Companies Generate Revenue

So how does each big tech firm make money? Let’s explore using data from each company’s June 2022 quarterly income statements.

Alphabet

breakdown of Alphabet's revenue streams and profit

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In Q2 2022, about 72% of Alphabet’s revenue came from search advertising. This makes sense considering Google and YouTube get a lot of eyeballs. Google dominates the search market—about 90% of all internet searches are done on Google platforms.

Amazon

breakdown of amazon's revenue streams and profit

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon’s biggest revenue driver is e-commerce. However, as the graphic above shows, the costs of e-commerce are so steep, that it actually reported a net loss in Q2 2022.

As it often is, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the company’s main profit-earner this quarter.

Apple

breakdown of Apple's revenue streams and profit

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Apple’s biggest revenue driver is consumer electronics sales, particularly from the iPhone which accounts for nearly half of overall revenue. iPhones are particularly popular in the U.S., where they make up around 50% of smartphone sales across the country.

Besides devices, services like Apple Music, Apple Pay, and Apple TV+ also generate revenue for the company. But in Q2 2022, Apple’s services branch accounted for only 24% of the company’s overall revenue.

Microsoft

breakdown of Microsoft's revenue streams and profit

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Microsoft has a fairly even split between its various revenue sources, but similarly to Amazon its biggest revenue driver is its cloud services platform, Azure.

After AWS, Azure is the second largest cloud server in the world, capturing 21% of the global cloud infrastructure market.

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Animation: The Most Popular Websites by Web Traffic (1993-2022)

This video shows the evolution of the internet, highlighting the most popular websites from 1993 until 2022.

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ranking websites by page views 1993-2022

The Most Popular Websites Since 1993

Over the last three decades, the internet has grown at a mind-bending pace.

In 1993, there were fewer than 200 websites available on the World Wide Web. Fast forward to 2022, and that figure has grown to 2 billion.

This animated graphic by James Eagle provides a historical look at the evolution of the internet, showing the most popular websites over the years from 1993 to 2022.

The 90s to Early 2000s: Dial-Up Internet

It was possible to go on the proto-internet as early as the 1970s, but the more user-centric and widely accessible version we think of today didn’t really materialize until the early 1990s using dial-up modems.

Dial-up gave users access to the web through a modem that was connected to an active telephone line. There were several different portals in the 1990s for internet use, such as Prodigy and CompuServe, but AOL quickly became the most popular.

AOL held its top spot as the most visited website for nearly a decade. By June 2000, the online portal was getting over 400 million monthly visits. For context, there were about 413 million internet users around the world at that time.

RankWebsiteMonthly Visits (May 2000)
1AOL400,891,812
2Yahoo387,573,587
3MSN354,239,803
4eBay116,101,785
5Lycos116,064,930

But when broadband internet hit the market and made dial-up obsolete, AOL lost its footing, and a new website took the top spot—Yahoo.

The Mid 2000s: Yahoo vs. Google

Founded in 1994, Yahoo started off as a web directory that was originally called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.”

When the company started to pick up steam, its name changed to Yahoo, which became a backronym that stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”

Yahoo grew fast and by the early 2000s, it became the most popular website on the internet. It held its top spot for several years—by April 2004, Yahoo was receiving 5.6 billion monthly visits.

RankWebsiteMonthly Visits (April 2004)
1Yahoo5,658,032,268
2MSN1,838,700,057
3Google1,318,276,780
4AOL905,009,947
5eBay805,474,705

But Google was close on its heels. Founded in 1998, Google started out as a simpler and more efficient search engine, and the website quickly gained traction.

Funny enough, Google was actually Yahoo’s default search engine in the early 2000s until Yahoo dropped Google so it could use its own search engine technology in 2004.

For the next few years, Google and Yahoo competed fiercely, and both names took turns at the top of the most popular websites list. Then, in the 2010s, Yahoo’s trajectory started to head south after a series of missed opportunities and unsuccessful moves.

This cemented Google’s place at the top, and the website is still the most popular website as of January 2022.

The Late 2000s, Early 2010s: Social Media Enters the Chat

While Google has held its spot at the top for nearly two decades, it’s worth highlighting the emergence of social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

YouTube and Facebook certainly weren’t the first social media platforms to gain traction. MySpace had a successful run back in 2007—at one point, it was the third most popular website on the World Wide Web.

RankWebsiteMonthly Visits (Jan 2007)
1Google7,349,521,929
2Yahoo5,169,762,311
3MySpace1,276,515,128
4MSN1,259,467,102
5eBay957,928,554

But YouTube and Facebook marked a new era for social media platforms, partly because of their ​​impeccable timing. Both platforms entered the scene around the same time that smartphone innovations were turning the mobile phone industry on its head. The iPhone’s design, and the introduction of the App store in 2008, made it easier than ever to access the internet via your mobile device.

As of January 2022, YouTube and Facebook are still the second and third most visited websites on the internet.

The 2020s: Google is Now Synonymous With the Internet

Google is the leading search engine by far, making up about 90% of all web, mobile, and in-app searches.

What will the most popular websites be in a few years? Will Google continue to hold the top spot? There are no signs of the internet giant slowing down anytime soon, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that things change. And no one should get too comfortable at the top.

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