Google and Facebook control 20% of global ad spend

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 3 May 2017

The digital duopoly Google and Facebook accounted for 20% of global advertising expenditure, nearly double their share of 11% in 2012, Zenith’s Top Thirty Global Media Owners report reveals.

In the past four years, the companies captured 64% of all the growth in global ad spend. Google, under its holding company Alphabet, is easily the largest media owner in the world, attracting $79.4 billion (last year it reported $60 billion) in ad revenue in 2016, three times more than the second‐largest – Facebook ($26.9 billion). The largest traditional media owner is Comcast, in third place, generated $12.9 billion in ad revenue.

Last year, Disney was ranked second but a change in the methodology to only count ad revenue as well as Facebook's rapid growth, has seen the social media platform move from fifth to second.

Among the 30 largest media companies by advertising revenue, digital media platforms hold seven of positions, including Baidu, Microsoft, Yahoo, Verizon and Twitter (see table below). These companies generated $132.8 billion in internet ad revenue in 2016 – 73% of all internet ad spend and 24% of the global advertising market. Last year only five digital media cmpanies with $88 million in revenue made the list.

Most of the fastest risers over the past four years have been digital media companies, led by Twitter which increased its ad revenues by 734% between 2012 and 2016. Tencent is second, having grown by 697% over this period, and Facebook is third, with 528% growth.

Two other media owners have more than doubled in size in this period, Baidu, which grew 190%, and Sinclair Broadcast Group, which grew 171%.

This highlights a gradual changing of the guard from traditional media players to companies better known as technology and telco giants.

“Zenith’s new ranking demonstrates just how much the internet advertising platforms are settingthe pace for global ad spend growth,” said Zenith head of forecasting Jonathan Barnard.

If Verizon’s planned acquisition of Yahoo is rubber stamped later this year, it will become the sixth largest media owner.

The only company on the list with major Australian operations is News Corp, which sits in 18th spot but this figure also includes its global operations.

Two thirds of the media owners are based in the US, which has the biggest ad market by some distance. US companies have also invested the most in extending their reach abroad and Silicon Valley innovation has powered the growth of internet advertising, the report said.

China (Baidu, Tencent and CCTV) and Germany (Bertelsmann, ProSiebenSat.1 and Axel Springer) have three each and there are four countries with one media owners each: France (JCDecaux), Brazil (Grupo Globo), Italy (Mediaset) and the UK (ITV).

Media powerhouses like the BBC weren’t considered for the list by virtue of the fact they are largely publicly funded.

The Top Thirty Global Media Owners report has been published since 2007. This year, the report focuses purely on media owners’ revenues from advertising, excluding revenues from all other activities.

“The scale of the biggest platforms highlights the importance of building strong partnerships between agencies and media owners,” said Zenith’s global brand president Vittorio Bonori,. “Brands need to deal with these platforms to communicate with consumers effectively and efficiently, and agencies need to ensure they do so on the best terms available.”

Top 30 media owners

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