Staff Reporters
Feb 28, 2020

WARC forecasts improved Asia adspend after anemic 2019

India and China expected to lead growth this year, though the forecasts don't yet take into account the COVID-19 outbreak.

While the Tokyo Olympics could be a massive driver of adspend in Asia, its fate hangs in the balance, given the global spread of COVID-19
While the Tokyo Olympics could be a massive driver of adspend in Asia, its fate hangs in the balance, given the global spread of COVID-19

Advertising spend in Asia for 2020 is expected to to rise by 7.5% to $205 billion, led by sharp increases in India (up 15.6% to $11.2 billion) and China (up 9.7% to $98.5 billion), even as other markets such as Japan (up 3.2% to $40.2 billion) and Australia (up 2.4% to $13.3 billion) all set to record better growth than 2019, according to the latest findings from WARC. 

The Asian market is likely to be driven by massive investments in the Tokyo Olympics (with sponsorship expected to at least triple compared to the previous edition), but this remains on a knife-edge due to the global spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

The likelihood of a COVID-19 global pandemic could change all these projections. "We are yet to amend our forecasts in light of the COVID-19 situation, as we would expect—if the crisis is contained—displaced spend to be reallocated later in the year," says the report's author James McDonald, managing editor, WARC Data. "Advertising's relationship with GDP is strong, but a slowdown in economic output as a result of the virus will not necessarily translate into reduced advertising investment. If events such as the Tokyo Olympics and UEFA Euro 2020 tournament are postponed or cancelled, however, we would expect a notable impact." 

Worldwide, meanwhile, advertising spend is set to rise by 7.1% to $660 billion this year, driven by 13.2% growth in internet investment. But traditional media, combined, are expected to record 1.5% growth to $324.2 billion—the first rise since 2011.

Alphabet's ad income is forecast to rise 10.5% to $149 billion worldwide and 72.4%—$107.8 billion—will come from Alphabet's core Google search platform. This gives Google a 77% share of the global search market. YouTube is expected to earn a further $18.5 billion for Alphabet in 2020, a 22% rise from 2019 and equivalent to 29.0% of all online video adspend worldwide.

Facebook's ad revenue, meanwhile, is projected to rise 19% to $82.9 billion, likely benefiting from the US presidential campaigns this year. Amazon's ad income is set to rise 21.4% to $17.1 billion, Twitter's 9.2% to $3.3 billion and Snap's 34.1% to $2.3 billion. All their ad earnings will contribute to an overall rise of 13.2% in internet ad investment this year, to a total of $335.4 billion—over half of the global total for the first time. Advertising revenue for the 'duopoly' (Alphabet and Facebook) is forecast to reach $231.9 billion in 2020, having topped the TV total for the first time in 2019.

Marketers are increasingly moving their ad dollars to newer formats. While social media spend is forecast to top $102 billion this year, or over 15% of global advertising spend, online video is forecast to rise 21.4% to $63.7 billion this year, equivalent to nearly a tenth of of global spend, even as nearly 90% of plan to use voice in their 2020 content campaign, an increase from 32% who used it in 2019.

The traditional media total is expected to be boosted by a return to growth for TV; here spend is set to rise 2.5% to $192.6 billion, helped in no small part by the US presidential election campaigns and the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

WARC says adspend is set to rise across all of the 19 product categories it tracks. The financial services sector is expected to lead growth, with a forecast rise 11.8% to $53.4 billion in 2020. Over half the spend is directed towards online formats and at the other end of the scale, 2.6% rise in the retail sector is soft compared to the global rate of 7.1% but would still represent the strongest growth since 2013. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) sectors such as soft drinks (up 6.5% to $17.3 billion) and food (up 4.9% to $28.1 billion) are expected to grow just behind the global rate this year, alcoholic drinks (up 6.9% to $9.7 billion) and automotive (up 6.8% to $57.2 billion) are roughly par.

(This article first appeared on

Campaign India

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