Inbound Marketing & Sales Development Inspiration

Digital Spend to Surpass TV Spend in 2017, by 36% in 2020

Posted March 16, 2016
2 minute read

At a recent speaking event, I posed a question to the audience. I asked, “who here watches TV on their own time, like on Hulu or Netflix, as opposed to watching live TV on cable.”

Nearly every single hand in the room went up.

This wasn’t a room of high schoolers or college students. This was a room of working professionals.

And yet, billions upon billions of dollars are still being spent on network TV advertising - as if that’s where all the eyeballs are.  

But it’s changing - and it’s changing in a big way.

In a recent report, eMarketer projects digital spend to surpass television advertising spend beginning in 2017.

According to eMarketer, “in 2017, TV ad spending will total $72.01 billion, or 35.8% of total media ad spending in the US. Meanwhile, total digital ad spending in 2017 will equal $77.37 billion, or 38.4% of total ad spending.”


This marks the first time in history digital spend surpassed TV ad spend in the US. And the gap will only widen. By 2020, digital spend will surpass television by 36%.

The rise of digital is coming at the expense of all other marketing channels. Since 2014, every offline advertising medium (TV, Radio, Print) has decreased or is projected to decrease spend year over year, while digital has grown or is projected to grow every single year.

And it gets crazier…

By 2020, the share of advertising dollars spent on television will EQUAL the total spend on mobile devices. 

That's right. By 2020, TV ad spend = Mobile ad spend. That means the same amount of money spent on a 50 inch screen will be spent on a 4.5 inch screen.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened sooner than that.

So, what does this mean for you?

  1. Your competitors will continue to pour more money into social advertising, paid search, SEO, content marketing, and other online tools.
  2. Your advertising dollars should favor digital over all else.
  3. Figure out your mobile ad strategy before your competitors beat you to it.

Topics Digital advertising, Reporting, Digital Marketing, Data

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