Five takeaways from Zenith’s ad spend predictions

These five charts will give insights into the next three years of media spending in the market.

Publicis’ global agency Zenith rolled out its global mid-year advertising forecasts yesterday, giving insight into the current and predicted health of the ad market for each of its measured countries (including Canada) and the world at large.

While MiC typically reports on the year-over-year trends from a pure growth standpoint, here’s some deeper insight into the trends we observed.

Note: Zenith defined digital advertising as all forms of digital, including programmatic, social, online publishers and OTT, and “newspapers” and “magazines” as their analog/print versions. OOH advertising includes digital.

Ad spend’s growth runs almost parallel with digital

Pictured: Canada’s digital ad spend (red) against Canada’s total ad spend (blue)

Canada’s ad spend is set to grow in healthy amounts over the next three years, up to CAD$15.1 billion in 2021 (from just under $14 billion in 2018). A close look at the growth of internet advertising shows that growth in that market has helped propel Canada’s ad market all together. While digital’s share of ad dollars has grown significantly since 2007 (back then, it represented only 12.8%; significant boosts between then and 2016 have propelled it to 54.7% in 2018), since around 2016, its rise has been more proportionate and in tandem with Canada’s media market as a whole. That’s because although digital is still growing, it is no longer growing at the exponential rate it once was. Penetration has tapered off, and other forms of media continue to play important roles in Canada’s advertising landscape.

TV might be more resilient than it’s given credit for

Pictured: TV’s ad spend over time (blue) versus newspapers’ (red) and magazines’ (yellow)

To look at Zenith’s ad spend predictions in the context of single years, one could easily focus on the prediction that TV’s ad spend is expected to see three consecutive years of declines – down just under 3% between 2018 and 2021 (when Zenith predicts it will reach $3.1 billion). But glancing at TV’s ad spend at a more macro perspective, it becomes clear that TV’s declines aren’t comparable to other declining forms of media. TV has been shown to fluctuate more than other forms of media, and even saw modest gains in 2017. Despite three years of declines, TV in 2021 will not be at the lowest it’s been in 14 years (that came in 2015, when it hit just under $3.1 billion in investment), and is only predicted to have fallen by 6% between 2007 and 2021. Compare that to newspapers, which will have fallen a predicted 62.3% over the same period (landing at $970 million in 2021) and magazines, which will have fallen by 80.6% (down to $142 million).

Digital’s share has come mostly at the expense of newspapers and magazines

Since 2007, TV has seen itself dethroned as the biggest area for ad investment in Canada, with digital stepping into place to take the lion’s share of ad dollars. But while the distribution of ad dollars indeed looks very different, TV hasn’t seen nearly as much of its share siphoned off as magazines, newspapers and even radio. By 2021, newspapers will represent only a meager 6.4% of ad share, and magazines 0.9%. Back in 2007, the same mediums represented 26.4% and 7.5% of investment, respectively. This means that newspaper’s share saw a 75.8% decrease in its share, and magazines an 88% decrease in share.

Growth – and declines – are becoming more consistent

Pictured above: the year-over-year growth rates of Canada’s various media forms.

It might seem as though the growth rates of some media (and the contrasting declines) have been consistent. However, various economic factors have led these rates to bounce around from year to year. For example, following the 2008 global recession, TV saw a reduction in investment, down 8.5% year-over-year. However, in the years following, its rates were up and down, from increases of 9.3% and 4.7% to a decrease of 2.5%. Even the generally healthy OOH industry has seen its growth rate go up and down over the years. However, from this year on, Zenith predicts that the gains and losses made by all media will be more predictable – newspapers will see three straight years of declines of 1% each year, as will TV and radio, while OOH will see three consecutive years of gains at the same rate. Even digital’s growth rates will stabilize to a more predictable 5% this year and 6% for the next two years.

Traditional media has seemingly evened out

Pictured: Canada’s media market over time, minus digital advertising

With digital propelling most of the Canadian media market’s growth, traditional media spent several years on a downturn overall, even though some forms of media (such as OOH and TV) made gains. At times, the traditional ad market has fallen more drastically, such as the period from 2012 to 2017. However, over the last two years, and continuing onward, Canada’s media minus digital will be more stable, with modest growth in OOH and stability in the TV and radio markets making up for losses on the print side. Coupled with healthy digital growth, this will lead to stable and dependable growth for Canada until 2021, according to Zenith.