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In Advertising Evolution, eMarketer Says Spending Growing At ‘Healthy Pace’ In 2024.

The ad market has turned around and eMarketer says it now expects total media ad spending to grow at a “healthy pace” not only in 2024, but for most of the remainder of the decade. “The ad market has stabilized, and for now we project smooth sailing,” it says in a new report. Emarketer says total U.S. ad spending will grow 9.5% this year to $389 billion, and exceed a half trillion dollars by 2028.

“Total media ad spending is in good shape, thanks to relentless growth from digital,” the report says. Emarketer says U.S. total media ad spending growth may have been “sluggish” in 2023 with a 4.9% increase, but it says a “healthy recovery is already underway” as it predicts double-digit growth through 2028 for digital media.

That is reflected in the audio forecast. Emarketer predicts radio ad spending to total $10.49 billion in 2024. Digital audio services will account for another $7.12 billion. It points to a marketplace where brands remain committed to audio, but where they are spending those dollars is in flux.

Last month the firm forecast overall audio ad spending will reach $17.61 billion in 2024, with six of ten dollars still generated by traditional radio advertising with digital audio ad dollars “more than offsetting a slight decrease in traditional radio advertising.” But the mix is evolving. Emarketer projects digital will account for more than 47% of audio ad dollars by 2028, when total audio advertising spend is projected to reach $18.42 billion. Podcast advertising is set to exceed a one-third share of digital audio advertising by 2025. This year, podcast ad revenues will top $2 billion for the first time.

The report says digital ad spending’s momentum is “seemingly permanent” and it projects that total digital ad spending will exceed $300 million for the first time this year, a 12.6% gain from a year ago. Emarketer says three-quarter of all U.S. ad dollars will be spent on digital media this year, with that total growing to 86% by 2028.

“Our bottom-up forecasting model shows consistent double-digit growth rates for digital every year through 2028,” the report says. “Most of the key digital formats, channels, and platforms have solid outlooks going forward.” Analysts add that traditional media is “getting dangerously close to niche status” considering how big a share digital media will snatch up.

Yet even as digital sucks up a lot of the attention, eMarketer says traditional ad spending will “not drag on growth” this year. Thanks to the election cycle and the Summer Olympics, it forecasts traditional ad spending to tick up 0.1% in 2024. It calls that a “big improvement” from last year when traditional spending declined 9.7%, mainly due to a flood of dollars out of television.

“Last year saw TV’s second-largest decline ever, and after 2024’s reprieve, next year will be even worse,” the report says. “Once-mighty TV will account for just 15.1% of total media ad spending this year.” But similar to how some of radio’s ad dollars are migrating to digital, eMarketer says connected TV advertising is one of the fastest-growing media channels this year. It predicts CTV ad spending will jump 18.8% from a year ago.

Analysts say digital ad spending is “splintering” across formats and channels, and there are many winners. Emarketer says social media, CTV and display—and within it, video—remain the most popular formats for digital ad spending. And retail media’s surge has boosted both search and display. The report says retail media ad spending will nearly triple by 2028 with almost 30% of digital ad spending going to companies whose primary business is retail or ecommerce, including Walmart, Target, Kroger, and Instacart, among others, as they take advantage of first-party data and proximity to purchase.

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