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The downturn ad economy: An account of two narratives

You can find two competing narratives on advertising right now. They sit uneasily with one another. But both are correct.

Ad dollars are increasingly being spent, but theyre also being cut. Yes, both of these things could be true simultaneously. No, the latter perspective doesnt make the former any less valid or vice versa. Really, its a matter of perspective.


  • Ad dollars are increasingly being spent: This group includes agency holding groups (Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, IPG); CPGs, telecoms, pharma companies are passing higher costs to consumers and individuals are paying the bigger prices; The effect: those that can afford to market remain spending
  • Ad dollars are increasingly being cut: This affects platforms (Meta, Twitter, Alphabet); Small and medium-sized enterprises and DTCs are cutting their ad spend; These groups are digital-first, including in ad spend, and theyre closer spending shifts compared to the bigger players

The agency perspective is upbeat, taking into consideration the downturn that isnt yet a recession but looks increasingly like one.

All three agency holding groups which have reported up to now in this earnings window Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and IPG have upgraded their revenue growth forecasts and cited a confident ad market, with few signs of contractions in ad spend.

The platform perspective, however, will be a lot more downbeat.

There have been advertising cuts over the largest online media owners during the last quarter even more severe than others, needless to say. Meta and Twitter bore the brunt of these cuts, to the stage where ad revenue slowed so much that it declined on the period. However, all of the big online media owners were cautious with how pervasive this ad pullback could easily get. The consensus: Ad cuts are likely to worsen before they progress.

The effect is a two-track ad economy has emerged from the downturn up to now.

Using one side of the track, there will be the big advertisers think CPG, telecommunications and pharmaceutical verticals. These businesses are up to now away from the attention of the economic storm right now that the final thing theyre considering doing is less advertising definately not it.

From their vantage point, these marketers visit a downturn thats filled with contradictions. Theyre ready where they need to pass higher charges for products from Dove, Coca-Cola along with other brands to consumers to mitigate inflation, yet those same consumers seem willing more often than not to stump up the money.

Its no real surprise that the marketers who is able to afford to market now want to take full advantage of it. Theyre spending ad dollars, instead of seeking to pull them. Indeed, economic slumps are often the best possiblity to buy share of voice cheaply simultaneously rivals reduce their very own. Its a cliche for grounds.

Otherwise, Unilever wouldnt have splurged 169.73 million ($206.7 million) on advertising in the initial half of the entire year alone. Coca-Cola did something similar, as did McDonalds. The biggest advertisers will attempt and advertise their way through the downturn to a spot, at the very least.

Eventually, there should come a time if they will need to pump the breaks on ad spending. Theres only so much shoppers will stomach with regards to inflated commodity costs before they switch to cheaper alternatives. No quantity of marketing will change that. Until then, big advertisers continue steadily to spend. Granted, revenue growth in a global with high inflation isn’t as effective as exactly the same revenue growth in a global with lower inflation, nonetheless it continues to be growth by any measure.

The big multinationals remain spending and thats helping the agencies, said Ian Whittaker, an equities research analyst at Liberty Sky Advisors. Moreover, the united states consumer while polarized continues to be generally accepting the purchase price increases being pushed by which is encouraging the brands to invest.

It goes a way to explaining why agencies are so cheery concerning the future. Remember, they are businesses that derive a lot of their revenue from just how much larger advertisers devote to advertising.

Don’t assume all advertiser is in that gilded position.

The economic outlook will be a lot scarier at the coal face of consumer sentiment where small and medium-sized enterprises and direct-to-consumer businesses have a tendency to sit.

These lenders experience shifts in spending faster than their larger counterparts. Consider the rut many food delivery companies and commerce companies come in now, following their pandemic-induced booms. The shaky economics that once turbocharged these lenders are actually short-circuiting them.

To survive, companies are cutting costs, including advertising. When these businesses advertise, they have a tendency to achieve this online first of all. SMEs and DTCs are only digital-first in lots of respects. When these businesses have the effects of unfortunate circumstances, so do the platforms they advertise on.

That has been clear in the wages updates from the big online media platforms. Alphabets chief financial officer Ruth Porat mentioned that some advertisers specifically pulled back spend, that could make reference to a weaker subset. The DTC bubble is popping following pressure from the wobbly economy, and the web media market is along for the ride. SMEs and DTCs will be the backbone of these ads businesses the inverse of the holding groups.

Google Search and Amazon ads have led the pack this quarter, that is an expected flight to safety by advertisers prioritizing short-term profits on return.

Jamie MacEwan, media analyst, Enders Analysis

Still, SMEs and DTCs arent the only real reason behind all that ails online media. Ill-informed ad spending could possibly be another. Weaker economic cycles suck out waste such as a vacuum. Execs from both Google and Meta alluded to the issue in the commentary around their updates. Ad revenue over the platforms brought the problem into sharp focus.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon i.e. search and commerce channels with strong commercial intent weathered the initial phases of the downturn much better than brand-building ones with weaker measurement of influence on sales.

Google Search and Amazon ads have led the pack this quarter, that is an expected flight to safety by advertisers prioritizing short-term profits on return, said Jamie MacEwan, media analyst at Enders Analysis. The search and e-commerce havens may also be sheltered from the consequences of Apples privacy changes being that they are largely contextual and near to the point of purchase. That resilience contrasts with the weakness shown by Meta, Snap, YouTube and Twitter.

The two-track ad economy can only just continue this method for so long. Ultimately, those paths will cross.

Least of most because agencies sawless of a pull-forward effect compared to the platforms this past year, especially in the initial half of the entire year when tech grew incredibly fast. This implies agencies have easier year-over-year comparisons reflected in the headline percentage growth. The year-over-year performance gap should moderate entering the next half, said MacEwan. In the event that you look at absolute growth, what agencies are reporting isnt inconsistent with the platforms results, he said.

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