“They might once have hoped to offset the digital-ad pie’s slower growth by grabbing a larger slice of it. No longer.”
Although the two are together expected to rake in around $300bn in revenues this year, sales of their four biggest rivals in the West will amount to almost a quarter as much… What is more, as digital advertising enters a period of transformation, the challengers look well-placed to increase their gains. The noisiest newcomer to the digital-ad scene is TikTok. In the five years since its launch the short-video app has sucked ad dollars away from Facebook and Instagram, Meta’s two biggest properties. So much so that the two social networks are reinventing themselves in the image of their Chinese-owned rival…. But Meta and Google may have more to worry about closer to home, where a trio of American tech firms are loading ever more ads around their main businesses.
Chief among them is Amazon, forecast to take nearly 7% of worldwide digital-ad revenue this year, up from less than 1% just six years ago. The company started reporting details of its ad business only in February, when it revealed sales in 2021 of $31bn. As Benedict Evans, a tech analyst, points out, that is roughly as much as the ad sales of the entire global newspaper industry. Amazon executives now talk of advertising as one of the company’s three “engines”, alongside retail and cloud computing.
Next in line is Microsoft, expected to quietly take more than 2% of global sales this year — slightly more than TikTok. Its search engine, Bing, has only a small share of the search market, but that market is a gigantic one. Microsoft’s social network, LinkedIn, is unglamorous but its business-to-business ads allow it to monetise the time users spend on it at a rate roughly four times that of Facebook, estimates Andrew Lipsman of eMarketer. It generates more revenue than some medium-sized networks including Snap’s Snapchat and Twitter.
The most surprising new adman is Apple. The iPhone-maker used to rail against intrusive digital advertising. Now it sells many ads of its own…. As digital ads work their way into more corners of the economy, “a new order is going to materialise”, believes Mr Lipsman. He thinks Amazon will overtake Meta in total advertising revenue, possibly within five years.
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