By Tom Simpson
A quick check of their books reveals that in the first quarter of 2017, 92 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising across Asia Pacific (ex. China) went to Facebook and Google.
That’s an incredible statistic. The good news is that digital marketing in the region is clearly experiencing strong growth, with revenues up by $1.23 billion year-on-year in 2017. The bad news? Of that $1.23 billion in growth, virtually all of it – $1.13 billion in total – goes to Google and Facebook, with only $100 million to share across the remainder of APAC publishers.
Facebook and Google combined revenue this quarter hit 51% of all APAC revenue, meaning more budget goes to to Google and Facebook than every other digital publisher in the region put together.
Google and Facebook also forge ahead in terms of revenue against all media in the region, taking 15 cents in every 1 dollar spent. This is up from 12% – or 12 cents in the dollar – last year, and represents the increase in budget flowing from traditional media, including TV.
None of the above is new news, with commentators globally highlighting the hold this duopoly already exerts over the advertising industry.
But in a week where Fairfax journalists in Australia strike in protest at cutbacks, and against a wider backdrop of losses and job cuts at traditional media outlets across Asia Pacific, it is especially concerning.
Where next? Publishing in general, and the ad tech industry specifically, is a challenging area, with multiple undifferentiated players, sometimes murky value chains, and VC money looking for safer havens. Many analysts predict massive consolidation in the years ahead. In fact with telcos and consultancies worldwide already positioning for unified marketing technology stacks, most would say the consolidation has already started.
Beyond that, The TradeDesk continues it’s roll with an IPO and recent big win on P&G; AppNexus and other major players forge a data alliance to bring much needed people based marketing data to open programmatic; and Integral Ad Science plus other key players have launched in the region, aiming to bring much needed transparency to what can be a difficult to navigate ecosystem. Even Google and Facebook cannot be sitting easy in the face of recent brand safety issues, fake news and Amazon putting increased focus on a server-to-server header bidding product that promises to put power back in the hands of publishers. P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard has made a call for transparency and open measurement across walled gardens in recent speeches, and this also seems to be making an immediate – and deserved – impact.
Finally, a note from history. In the early 1900s, the United States had around 2,000 firms producing one or more cars. By 1920 the number of firms had decreased to about 100 and by 1929 to 44. In 1976 the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association in the US had only 11 members.
In many ways digital advertising, and the industry that surrounds it, is it’s own worst enemy. All dollars eventually become digital dollars, so it is the only show in town. But a show obsessed with the next shiny thing, full of incomprehensible – and often meaningless – metrics, and more importantly, critically lacking in real transparency. Programmatic has only accelerated these tendencies.
Google and Facebook have done a huge amount to bring new money into digital advertising by simplifying advertising for brand marketers. And they have reaped the rewards.
However, they are now part of a systemic change representing an existential threat to an entire industry – media, advertising, agencies, publishing, journalism are all caught up in this – across the region and globally. Change rarely comes without casualties. The struggle for monetisation continues.
A huge debt to Jason Kint (this chart in particular) and Brian Nowak at Morgan Stanley for the inspiration for this article, and the work they have done creating similar graphs for Global and US ad revenues. Corrections welcome. Numbers are based on Facebook and Google publicly filed earnings information and best industry advertising revenue estimates – but someone out there may have a better view. The major assumption in this data is to exclude Chinese advertising spend both from Google and Facebook earnings information and APAC industry spend estimates to avoid distorting the data in a market where Facebook and Google have small (although not insignificant) advertising businesses. All the data is available on a public Google sheet (yes, sorry, it’s Google!) here.
Notes and References.
1. Google 2017 1st Quarter Earnings Report: a. Estimated based on reported total APAC revenues x 90% (percentage of Google revenues represented by advertising) b. Excludes Google revenue in China estimated based on APAC revenue data sources.
2. Facebook 2017 1st Quarter Earnings Report: a. Estimated based on reported total APAC revenue by User Geography b. Excludes Facebook revenue in China estimated based on APAC revenue data sources.
3. APAC digital revenue data compiled from: IAB, eMarketer, GroupM, ZenithOptimedia, McKinsey & Company
4. APAC all media revenue data compiled from: IAB, eMarketer, GroupM, ZenithOptimedia, McKinsey & Company.