Media investment company Magna has boosted its U.S. advertising market forecasts for 2023 and 2024, citing an improving economic outlook, better-than-expected year-to-date trends and upgrades to its digital media growth projections, partially offset by downgraded ad expectations for traditional media owners, including in television.
“Total advertising spending re-accelerated in the second quarter of 2023. Sales were up 4.4 percent
year-over-year, following two quarters of stagnation,” the company said in a new report, citing “a general improvement in the economy” and easier year-over-year comparisons. “However, only pure-play digital media vendors (search, social, video) really benefited (+8.7 percent in the second quarter), while traditional media companies continued to struggle (-4.1 percent).” The firm’s takeaway: “Digital spending recovers but traditional media continue to struggle.”
It now sees total ad spend growing 7 to 8 percent in the current third quarter and the fourth quarter, compared to 2.9 percent in the first half of the year, to bring full-year 2023 ad growth to 5.2 percent, up from Magna’s previous estimate of 4.2 percent, as unveiled in June. That means 2023 ad spending will hit $337 billion.
The firm raised its 2023 revenue growth forecast for digital media owners, including Alphabet/Google, Meta/Facebook and Amazon, from 7.9 percent to 9.6 percent, but downgraded its expectation for traditional media owners in TV, radio, publishing and out-of-home advertising from -3.2 percent to -3.6 percent.
Looking at 2024, Magna raised its ad spend growth forecast from 5.0 percent to 5.6 percent, or 8 percent including cyclical spending, such as political ads. “Digital media owners will grow ad sales by 9.8 percent next year, while cyclical spending will mitigate the erosion of non-cyclical ad sales for traditional media owners (-2.0 percent excluding cyclical, +4.3 percent including cyclical/political),” the firm predicted in its report.
National TV networks, in particular, are “facing challenges on two fronts in 2024, on both volumes and
pricing supply,” Magna warned. It continues to forecast a 2023 national TV ad revenue drop of 3.9 percent, followed by a 2024 decline of 3.2 percent, compared to its previous projection for a 2.2 percent decrease.
“The ongoing writers strike may lead to a lack of fresh attractive content in the first half of 2024 and thus potentially a further acceleration in long-term viewing declines,” Magna’s new report notes. “In addition, the loss in ratings will not be offset by pricing since Magna predicts low-single digit CPM (meaning: ad rate) inflation for the first time in 20 years. As a result, non-cyclical linear ad sales will shrink by almost 7 percent next year, but that will be mitigated by the continued rise of AVOD ad sales (+11 percent) and $800 million of incremental revenues generated around the Paris Olympics.”
What does this add up to? “Total cross-platform national TV ad revenues will thus shrink by just 0.7 percent next year (compared to -3 percent excluding cyclical), to $46.4 billion,” the ad prognosticator’s report concluded.
“Six months ago, the media industry was bracing for recession, but advertisers kept calm and continued to support their brands and sales through media investment,” said Vincent Létang, executive vp, global market intelligence at Magna and author of the report. “As the U.S. economy and advertising spending were both stronger than expected so far this year, and digital media is finally recovering from its 2022 woes, Magna raises its full-year ad revenue growth forecast.”
His report warned though that “the ad revenues of most traditional media owners will continue to stagnate or decline despite the continued growth of their digital ad sales,” with non-cyclical ad sales to full 3 percent for national TV and drop 5 percent for local TV next year. “However, spending around the summer Olympics upcoming presidential election will mitigate the revenue erosion for national TV and bring huge growth for local TV,” Magna highlighted. “Local TV ad revenues are expected to grow by +28% compared to 2023, thanks to an incremental $5.7 billion generated by political demand and induced spot inflation.”