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Media Spend in 2020: Will the Online and Offline Binary be Obsolete?

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By 2020 digital ad spend is forecast to be more than five times larger than it was in 2010, accounting for a 45.7% share of spend. ​

With the number of those using the internet growing by an average of more than one million every day, this trend of steady growth looks set to continue for some years to come. The explosion of social media has created a considerable portion of digital growth in recent years and is forecast to grow by one-fifth in 2020.[1]

​The world in 2030

We expect that in the next ten years, many countries will be accessed entirely through ‘digital’ - incorporating TV, radio and OOH (out of home).

As such ‘digital’ as a category may become redundant as it increasingly becomes the way to access and buy various types of media. Current evidence of this is in the following:
1) Traditional media companies offering a full service of both below and above the fold media through a singular digital access point (i.e., The Trade Desk) resulting in the streamlining of how these types of media are purchased.

2) The rise of voice and its impact on audio and how it could influence other traditional channels (OOH, TV, etc.), additionally, technological advancements could see the convergence of media offerings in the physical and digital space, too.

We predict that by 2030 the current way of reporting ad spend will be dated and not fit for purpose.

We predict the following to also contribute to this change:


1) Data dominance


With the always evolving digital landscape, brands and advertisers will look to increase spend in data and AdTech to ensure they will be at the forefront of analytics, attribution and evaluation. This squarely sits within the context of the foundations of the advertising industry continuing to be challenged with issues, for example, around data protection, sharing and transparency, as well as the death of the cookie.


Thus by 2030, the spend in AdTech and data will continue to increase, but as part of digital budget investment.


2) Move towards platforms


The majority of media that is now consumed by users is platform-based. From long form content on Netflix, to podcasts on Spotify, to photos shared of ‘Instagram moments’ - all of this is done within walled gardens. However, there isn't yet a singular perfect formula for platform buying.


Currently, buys are based on what the platforms tell us is the right way of doing so (e.g., Google and affinity audiences), but we expect that there will be a huge turning point by 2030 on methodologies and how this is reported.


In addition, with consumer behaviour shifting to platforms and services based on subscription (even in fashion with Rent The Runway), the need for what we deem as ‘media’ and ‘media spend’ becomes obsolete. This will be true with both the more traditional platforms and emerging platforms looking to new sources of income vs. media spend.


3) New Categories


On the other side of the data and technology coin is the expansion of what comprises media into entirely new categories.


New categories such as experiential have already established themselves as an extension of OOH and command a large proportion of ad spend. Although these are not currently tracked, they are media by its definition. For example, more and more clients are putting their media budgets towards making over a derelict building, repurposing a car park etc., and these expensive one-off projects are PR-able moments that generate a lot of media coverage, social and non-traditional in the ways they are amplified. These events can have a significant impact and give an identity to a brand whose core values are personified in these moments.

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