Asia Pacific to Overtake North America as World's Largest Digital Ad Market in 2016

Shanghai skyline - Getty - H 2016
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images for Laureus

The region's rise is being driven by China, where digital ad spend is expected to grow 25.1 percent this year.

The Asia Pacific region is on track to overtake North America as the world’s biggest market for digital advertising in 2016, according to the latest advertising forecast report from research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.

Digital ad spend in Asia-Pacific is projected to rise 18.2 percent in this year to $59.7 billion, while North America will grow 9.6 percent to $59.5 billion.

Overall, digital ad spend globally is expected to rise 12.6 percent in 2016 to $176.7 billion — a 32 percent share of total advertising spend.

Asia Pacific’s ascendance is being driven by China, where digital ad spend is expected to grow 25.1 percent to $22.4bn, second only to the U.S. with $55.6 billion. Together, the U.S. and China account for a whopping 44 percent of all global digital ad spend.

“Advertising is about eyeballs and the sheer scale of the Chinese market, along with India and Indonesia, is why Asia-Pacific will overtake North America this year, despite underlying economic weakness in some economies," says Strategy Analytics’ digital media director Michael Goodman. "Millions just can’t compete with billions."

By 2021, Asia-Pacific’s digital ad market will be 33 percent bigger than North America’s. The North American market, however, still spends by far the most on digital advertising per capita at $165. Western Europe ranks second with $95 spent per person, while Asia remains very low compared to the West with just $15 per head.

“Asia-Pacific’s relatively low ad spend per capita shows the tremendous potential for growth compared to the more saturated markets in the West, particularly with mobile phones removing a barrier to internet access in less developed markets," adds Goodman. "This will grow the online population dramatically and, consequently, ad spend will follow suit.”