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After a 5.7 percent gain in 2022 to a record $315 billion, U.S. media owners’ advertising revenue will rise 3.4 percent in 2023, down from the previously forecast 3.7 percent, media investment company Magna projected on March 27. That will still mean a new all-time high of $326 billion for the U.S. ad market, the firm noted.
Adjusting the estimates and actual figures for cyclical events in 2022 and 2023, such as the Beijing Olympics and U.S. midterm elections, U.S. advertising spend will grow by 5.2 percent this year after a gain of 7.2 percent last year, the intelligence firm predicted.
“Ad spend slowed down significantly through the second half, and fourth quarter ad sales were flat year-over-year,” Magna wrote in its forecast. “Looking at 2023, there are mixed economic signals (slow but continued GDP growth, receding inflation, resilient job market), while financial turbulence is generating anxiety among consumers and businesses. On the other hand, the rise of retail media networks, the growth of ad-supported video streaming and the recovery of the automotive industry are among organic growth factors mitigating the impact of macro-economic uncertainty.”
Digital advertising is projected to continue to grow to the tune of 9 percent this year, driven by its increased adoption by marketers. National long-form video ad revenue will “stabilize” at around $43.8 billion, down 1 percent, with streaming ad sales growth offset by declines in linear TV, according to the ad forecast. “Organic growth of streaming – AVOD and FAST channels – (of) 20 percent roughly offsets the organic decline and weaker pricing of linear ad sales (-5 percent).”
In that context, Magna also highlighted that “ad-supported long-form video streaming is expanding with the launch of ad tiers from Disney+ and Netflix (AVOD, FAST channels), allowing brands to reconnect with demographics that are increasingly hard and expensive to reach through linear television.”
Meanwhile, local TV will be under pressure, with the firm projecting a non-political ad sales drop of 5 percent and total ad revenue decline of 24 percent due to a lack of political spending after record sales in 2022.
Amid key ad categories, automotive is providing good news due to signs that it has finally turned a corner. “Car sales have started to grow again, and media owners already saw a rebound in ad spend in the fourth quarter,” Magna highlighted. “Travel and entertainment will also grow ad spending in 2023, while consumer packaged goods, restaurants and retail brands might struggle.”
Vincent Létang, executive vp, global market research at Magna, highlighted how things have changed in the ad space over time. “In a similar economic climate, 10 or 20 years ago, the U.S. advertising market would almost certainly fall off a cliff,” he said. “Things are different in 2023 because of media innovation fueling marketing demand. The organic drivers that boosted the ad market in 2021 and the first half of 2022 are still around and mitigating the impact of stressful economic signals. Such organic drivers include the rise of retail media networks, which are redirecting billions of marketing budgets dollars into advertising formats. In addition, with long-form OTT streaming going mainstream and increasingly ad-supported, brands finally find cost-effective solutions to reconnect with audiences that had become hard and expensive to reach through linear television.”
Retail media networks are digital ad platforms offered by retail companies that tap into sales data and sell targeted ads on a collection of digital channels, such as websites and apps, to marketers that want to reach shoppers. According to the forecast, their ad revenue will jump 15 percent this year to $41 billion.
Magna’s report also included an analysis of media companies’ fourth-quarter ad results during the most recent earnings season. “The slowdown was slightly stronger than expected as ad spend was essentially flat (+0.8 percent year-over-year) in the quarter,” the company noted, but also emphasized: “We must keep in mind that we are comparing with 2021, a post-COVID year that was the strongest ever, both in terms of dollar spend and year-over-year growth.”
For 2023, Magna expects weaker growth in the first half of the year (2 percent in the first and 4 percent in the second quarter, “followed by a recovery in the second half (6 percent-7 percent) as the economy solidifies and advertising comparisons become much easier.”
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