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Digital and Native Advertising Growth: A Full Assessment on Media Ad Spend

Increasingly mobile lifestyles and new innovations in advertising technology have created a new set of opportunities for marketers in the world of digital advertising.

Now, brands and agencies in search of vast audiences and consumer attention have to consider budget allocations and long-term strategies in a fast changing sphere.

As many of us will be heavily influenced by future marketing and advertising trends, we decided to do a full assessment on media ad spend, including the growth of native and video advertising, to see where media spend is (and should) be going.

Print Decline Accelerating; Television Poised for a Takedown

Recently, Victoria’s Secret discontinued their famous direct-mail catalogue which had been helping the brand increase awareness for 29 years. The event illustrates the current state of print, whose decline is expected to accelerate 20% by 2017. Over the same period, total media ad spend will increase by 11%, from $177.76 billion to $196.95 billion (eMarketer). 

As recently as 2014, Television accounted for 39.6% of all media ad spend globally. This number will shrink to 37.4% by 2017 (a 5.5% decline), opening the door for a new champion.

Watch the Throne, Digital Will Be New King by 2017

Digital ad spend is set to officially surpass TV in 2017, and by 2020, digital will account for 44.9% of all media ad spend (eMarketer). Within just four short years, digital is expected to have an impressive 12% margin over TV.

With this uptick, many brands have allocated a higher proportion of their marketing budget towards digital and found success with their target audiences, especially amongst certain channels.

Mobile Leads Digital Video Advertising’s Growth

Thus far, mobile has been the catalyst for digital’s ascension over TV due to their unique ability to reach audiences anywhere. Currently, mobile ads are achieving over 2X the amount of brand awareness and up to 3X the level of purchase intent as their desktop counterparts (Opera MediaWorks).

Mobile video, in particular, has seen the greatest success, where spending in the US jumped 80.6% in 2015. That trend is expected to continue, albeit at a more reasonable rate, well into the future.

Set to experience doubledigit growth every year, the US digital video advertising market will nearly double by 2019, at which point it will account for roughly 43% of all media ad spend. (eMarketer)

Mobile video has been a goldmine for advertisers who have been able to show targeted audiences more personal ads in real time, everywhere they go. A marketing budget that doesn’t include mobile video ad spend will soon be a rarity.

Native Advertising Also Anchoring Digital Growth

Many sources estimate that accidental clicks on banner ads are as high as 50% (Business Insider). This wasteful spend has hurt brands and brand equity, leading to a massive shift towards native advertising.

By 2021, native display ad revenue in the US, which includes native in-feed ads on publisher properties and social platforms, will make up 74% of total US display ad revenue, up from a 56% share in 2016.

Total media ad spend on native ads will grow 20%+ up until 2021 and beyond (eMarketer). During that span, we will witness spend on digital banner ads decline for the first time, as brands produce more content and resort to storytelling as a way to better connect with their digital audiences.

Native Advertising Top Digital Focus for Marketers

Brands and agencies have found success with native ads, including in-feed sponsored content and outstream video, which integrate well with the user experience.

Recently, native ads ranked as the top priority for  B2B marketers when asked where they will focus their mobile ad buys over the next six months (VentureBeat).

As a result, native display ad revenue in the US is expected to rise to $36B within the next 5 years (Business Insider).

Media Ad Spend Growth and Trends (Summary)

    • Print media ad spend (newspapers and magazine) will decline 20% by 2017.
    • Long-time king TV set to be surpassed by Digital in 2017.
    • Digital now accounts for roughly 35% of all media ad spend, roughly $60Billion USD. This number will grow to 45% and about $90Billion USD by 2020.
    • Digital triumph will continue to be led mainly by mobile video (80% increase in spend in 2015), and native advertising (20%+ growth each year into the foreseeable future).


We see that digital will continue to soar and its ascension will be led primarily by mobile video and native advertising, where brands have achieved the best outcomes.

As the industry continuously changes, brands will accelerate their search for new and innovative ways to tell their unique story across the mediums and channels that best resonate with their target audiences. Currently, that means good news for native and non-intrusive video ads.

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