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INFLUENCED

How the internet ate the advertising industry

By Alison Griswold

Online advertising will soon just be “advertising.”

Online ads will claim more than half—52%—of global ad spending for the first time in 2021, according to a new forecast from analytics firm Zenith. That’s up from 47% this year and 44% in 2018.

Growth in online ad spend is coming fastest in online video and social media, something that probably isn’t surprising to anyone who’s waded through ads on YouTube or Instagram lately. Each of these categories is growing at nearly 20% a year. There’s a lot of money to made in the influencer economy.

Ad services are an increasing focus for Amazon, which is challenging internet giants Alphabet and Facebook in the space. Growth has slowed in paid search, Alphabet’s bread and butter and a more established category that made up 37% of internet ad spend in 2018.

Advertising is a massive industry that could reach $639 billion in spending globally this year, Zenith estimates, up 4.6% from the previous year. Almost half of that growth is coming from the US, followed by China, the UK, and India.