Digital Ad Spend Outpaces Traditional for the First Time in 2019, Says eMarketer

digital ad spend

A new report from eMarketer predicts that digital media will account for 54.2% of all ad spending in 2019, surpassing traditional media spending for the first time ever. For hospitals and medical practices, this means it’s time to get on board with digital.

Digital ad spend has been rising steadily over the past several years, and is expected to surpass print and TV spending for the first time in 2019. In February, eMarketer published a report predicting that companies will spend nearly $130 billion on digital ads this year (compared to just $110 billion on offline ads), enough to claim a 54.2% share of the advertising market.

This landmark shift highlights a major change in how marketers are allocating their resources. As the power of print and TV declines, companies are increasingly relying on digital ads to reach wider — and a wider variety of — audiences. Mobile advertising is enjoying particularly strong growth, and is expected to reach $87 billion this year — more than two-thirds of the year’s total digital ad spend.

For medical marketers, the findings of the eMarketer report amount to a compelling case for increasing investment in digital marketing. As consumers spend more and more time online — often searching for healthcare information — hospitals and medical practices are turning to tools like Google and Facebook to engage them in meaningful ways and, ultimately, convert them into patients.

The Decline of Print Media

As eMarketer Forecasting Director Monica Peart explains, “The steady shift of consumer attention to digital platforms has hit an inflection point with advertisers, forcing them to now turn to digital to seek the incremental gains in reach and revenue which are disappearing in traditional media advertising.”

Unsurprisingly, increased digital spend coincides with decreased investment in print ads. For instance, ad spending in the Yellow Pages is predicted to fall by 19%, and print newspapers and magazines are expected to see an 18% decline in advertising dollars. All told, traditional media’s share of the advertising market will drop from 51.4% in 2018 to 45.8% in 2019. This trend is expected to continue over the next several years, with digital ads projected to account for over two-thirds of all ad spending as soon as 2023.

The Evolution of Video

The proliferation of streaming and other cord-cutting services has profoundly transformed the video landscape — and advertisers have taken notice. As investment in online video ads continues to grow, TV ad spend is expected to drop. In fact, ad spend on TV will fall to around $71 billion this year, a 2.2% year-over-year decrease. While part of this drop can be attributed to this year’s lack of major elections and sporting events like the Olympics, in the bigger picture, this decline underscores marketers’ slow yet steady departure from “traditional” video advertising.

By pivoting to online video, advertisers are simply channeling their money to where the eyeballs are. Hubspot estimates that 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube content per week. Hospitals and medical practices can take advantage of this trend by incorporating video into their site design and creating original video content to share on social media. Video marketing not only improves patient engagement metrics, but according to some studies, can even increase conversions by up to 80%.

The Rise (and Diversification) of Digital Ads

As advertisers continue to move their spend around, the balance of power in the digital advertising market is undergoing a subtle — but not insignificant — shift, as well. Digital advertising’s top two powerhouses — Facebook and Google — still claim a collective 59% of the market, but Amazon is slowly encroaching on their territory.

The eMarketer report predicts that between 2018 and 2019, Google’s share of total domestic digital ad spend will decrease from 38.2% to 37.2%; during the same interval, Facebook’s share will increase ever-so-slightly from 21.8% to 22.1%. By contrast, Amazon’s share of total domestic digital ad spend is projected to grow by more than 50%, and will soon account for nearly 9% of the total market.

Amazon offers distinct advantages to marketers, which may explain its rapid expansion. According to Peart, “The platform is rich with shoppers’ behavioral data for targeting and provides access to purchase data in real-time. This type of access was once only available through the retail partner, to share at their discretion. But with Amazon’s suite of sponsored ads, marketers have unprecedented access to the ‘shelves’ where consumers are shopping.”

The enduring dominance of Facebook and Google suggests that medical marketers should be able to reach new patients through search and social media ads for quite some time. That said, medical marketers should always make an effort to diversify their portfolios in ways that accommodate emerging opportunities. With Amazon starting to close in on the stalwarts of the digital advertising space, now is a prime time for medical marketers to take advantage of the e-commerce giant’s emerging advertising platform.

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