The State of Media for B2B Marketers

July 22, 2018

B2B Media

As media consumption habits evolve, digital ad spend continues to rise. Mobile advertising and digital video are experiencing explosive growth while print publications and TV continue to lose ground.

These are among the key takeaways from an analysis of the state of media for B2B marketers here in 2018. As this landscape keeps shifting, B2B organizations need to be paying attention.

Let’s break down the most noteworthy stats and trends.

As Projected, TV is Tumbling

“TV global growth is diminishing,” said Vincent Letang, head of global forecasting at Magna Global, in a 2015 New York Times article. “In most major developed markets, TV growth is slowing and in some cases stagnating.”

In that piece, it was predicted by ZenithOptimedia that digital would overtake TV as the biggest advertising category by 2018. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

Digital ad spend in the U.S. is projected to reach $107 billion this year, according to eMarketer, while TV ad spend continues to decline. Consumers and viewers are increasingly cutting the cord and going broadband as over-the-top (OTT) content delivery and digital video keep carving out larger shares. eMarketer forecasts that TV will account for less than a quarter of total ad spend by 2022.

As you can see in the chart below, trends haven’t been kind to this traditional advertising platform and the outlook isn’t great either (the bump in 2016, and the smaller projected one in 2020, are owed to the Olympics and presidential elections):

Out of Print

TV isn’t the only longtime media mainstay fading in the digital age. Magazines and print publications are also losing advertising dollars. The fall is precipitous and ongoing, as this visualization of magazine ad spend via Tableau illustrates:

In 2017, magazine ad spend dropped by 14.8% while newspapers slid by 10.9%, per MediaPost.

Zeroing in on the B2B sector, we can see from media industry revenue trends that digital advertising has experienced a steady rise as print has moved in the opposite direction. An examination of the latest Brand Audience Report from the Association of Magazine Media shows that readership for business-focused publications like Fortune and Fast Company are down significantly from a year ago.

Digital Dominion

On the digital front, growth is everywhere. Data from IAB’s Advertising Revenue Report indicates:

  • Overall digital ad spend reached $88 billion in 2017, a 21% increase over 2016
  • Mobile spend rose from $36.6 billion in 2016 to $49.9 billion in 2017, a 36% year-over-year increase
  • Digital video ad spend jumped to a record $11.9 billion in 2017, up 33% from 2016 ($8.9 billion)
  • Social media advertising checked in at $22.2 billion last year, rising 36% from the 2016 total of $16.3 billion
  • Search revenue, banner ads, and digital audio also saw significant hikes

“Consumers are increasingly spending a tremendous amount of time with interactive screens and content – from mobile to desktop and audio to OTT – and brands are in lockstep with a growing commitment to digital ad buys,” noted Randall Rothenberg, CEO of IAB. As digital continues to eat away at all other media, we’re seeing this projection from eMarketer — originally put together in 2015 — come  to fruition:

What Does It All Mean?

For most people reading this, the trends outlined above probably don’t come as much of a surprise. But the striking nature of these statistics hammers home a reality we all should come to terms with: interactive digital screens now attract the majority of eyeballs.

Outside of very specific cases, it’s tough for B2B advertisers to justify major investments in traditional TV or trade publications. The fleeting foothold of these media platforms is diminishing and there are no signs of that changing in the coming years.

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