Google, Meta make hay from digital ads growth

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Google, Meta make hay from digital ads growth

The global advertising industry will notch higher growth this year than previously expected, according to two ad industry forecasts.

It is likely to continue its streak in 2022 as brands are relying more heavily on search engine and social media companies such as Alphabet Inc's Google and Meta Platforms Inc to reach customers during the pandemic.

Despite a year marked by worldwide supply chain disruptions that delayed products from reaching shelves and a user privacy clampdown by Apple Inc that many feared would disrupt mobile advertising, brands have continued to advertise online and promote ecommerce as in-store shopping has been slow to return due to the ongoing pandemic, said Jonathan Barnard, director of global intelligence at advertising firm Zenith, which published an ad expenditure forecast on Monday.

New businesses formed during the pandemic needed to advertise to find customers, while others likely maintained ad spending to stay in front of consumers' minds, said Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence at ad agency GroupM.

GroupM forecast global ad spending to grow 22.5 percent in 2021 from the previous year, while Zenith estimated growth of 15.6 percent. Both estimates were revised up from previous expectations.

"This is possibly the fastest-growing year ever in terms of the advertising industry," Wieser said during a UBS conference on Monday.

Global ad spending is expected to grow by about 9 percent in 2022, according to the reports.

The growth has been a boon for Alphabet, Meta and Inc, major sellers of digital ads and which now account for more than half of all advertising spending outside of China, an increase from closer to 40 percent in 2019, GroupM said.

It also comes as Alphabet and Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, both face antitrust investigations in the United States and Europe. Google is also under scrutiny from the Australian Government over its dominance of the digital advertising market, and the Government recently announced a parliamentary inquiry into the behaviour of Big Tech companies.

The need for marketers to directly reach consumers has also led to the success of mega-retailers to rapidly grow their own ad sales businesses, allowing brands to use their shopper data to target more customers. This form of advertising grew 47 percent this year to total US$77 billion and is expected to grow to US$143 billion by 2024, according to Zenith.

Retail media networks have been established in China for more than a decade, but the growth in other markets has been remarkable, Barnard said.

"In the last five years, it has grown explosively out of nowhere outside of China," he said.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Porter)

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