Google and Facebook pull in one-fifth of global ad revenue as digital duopoly shows no signs of slowing

Google and Facebook now control 20% of global ad spend

Google and Facebook attracted one-fifth of global ad spend across all media in 2016, with the digital duopoly showing no signs of slowing down.

Zenith's global ad spend report details the top 30 media owners worldwide each year, and has indicated that between them Facebook and Google captured 20% of international ad expenditure in 2016. Between 2012 to 2016 the study claims that combined the pair drove of 64% of all the growth in the industry.

Alphabet-owned Google is by far the largest media owner in the world, attracting three-times more ad revenue than Facebook, according to Zenith. In total it pulled in a $79.4bn portion of global ad budgets in 2016 against its rival's $26.9bn.

Jonathan Barnard, the head of forecasting at Zenith, said: “Zenith’s new ranking demonstrates just how much the internet advertising platforms are setting the pace for global ad spend growth."

The report found that online advertising has overtaken television to become the world's biggest medium, however TV giant Comcast still attracted a hefty portion of global ad spend, placing third in the rankings behind Google and YouTube.

Twitter, meanwhile, has taken the crown for the fastest growing media owner over the past five years, noting an ad revenue increase of 734% between 2012 to 2016.

While the microblogging site has had a tough few years, it appears to be firming up what is stands for and is emerging from the other side in terms of daily user growth and proposition.

Twitter's most recent financial results revealed a dip in revenue, but the platform beat analyst estimates and unveiled a plan to woo advertisers by positioning itself as the "gold standard" for third-part measurement – capitialising on the trust issues that have dogged Google and Facebook in light of recent scandals around transparency and brand safety. The platform has also just inked a deal with Bloomberg to create 24/7 news programme and is mounting a major content push with other partners like BuzzFeed, offering opportunities to attract a bigger slice of global ad spend in the coming year.

Key industry figures such as Sir Martin Sorrell have expressed concern over the duopoly Facebook and Google hold over the industry and their reluctance to categorise themselves as media companies in light of a furore around the spread of fake news within their walls. Speaking to CityAM last week the WPP boss said:

“When you have a duopoly, clients and agencies are looking for alternatives. Unless they acknowledge that they are media companies and not technology companies and therefore have the same responsibilities [as the news industry] for the truthfulness of their content that appears on their pages, until that happens, there could be a problem.

"After they’ve acknowledged that, and acknowledged a responsibility, I think there’s an opportunity they’ll continue to grow."

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she has interviewed key figures from brands like Airbnb, Amnesty International, Facebook and Spotify. She has covered international events in Berlin and Amsterdam, as well as Advertising Week Europe.

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