Digital Marketing Ad Spend Will Be Greater Than TV in 2016

Advertising is about to see a radical shift here in the States.

According to Forrester Research, by 2016, digital marketing ad spend will overtake the dollars spent on television advertising. In fact, by 2019, the company estimates that $109 billion will be spent on paid search, social media, email, and display efforts– which will account for 36% of overall advertising spend (TV, on the other hand, will receive an estimated 30% of the budget). 

The upheaval of television won’t necessarily come simply because brands are redirecting commercial budget to channels like YouTube, however. Instead, the recent improvement in the economy will allow for more cash in advertisers’ marketing budgets, and with the abundance of inventory available online, combined with years of proven results, brands are more comfortable with digital marketing as a viable option.

This is hardly surprising: with television airtime being a generally fixed-commodity, along with increased segmentation in media (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus being examples), digital was due to usurp TV at some point this decade.

SEM is projected to continue to receive the lion-share of digital marketing ad spend the next few years,  as direct results are most easily measured through search. I would expect social media spend to continue to increase as well; however, given how cheap & plentiful social inventory is (and the lack of defined metrics), I can’t imagine it will ever top display, let alone paid search.

While the $100 billion mark is significant, Forrester reports that this number could even be larger– if it weren’t for content creation (which isn’t included in their estimates) and brands utilizing free distribution channels like YouTube & Facebook instead of buying 100% of their online ad time.

Time will tell if these projections hold true. If 2016 is to be the ‘banner year’ for digital marketing, I expect we may even some of this shift take place this Q4; and, if not, certainly 2015’s.

TL;DR version: if you work in digital marketing, your future is safe.