Search and Social Expected to Drive 67% of Ad Spend Growth by 2020, Brands Invest More in SEO

What: Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, published today, expect two-thirds of growth in advertising expenditure by 2020 to come from paid search and social media ads.
Why it matters: Paid search has undergone important changes in recent years. More sophisticated intelligence is necessary to compete in the next step, which is voice search.

According to Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, search and social media will be the biggest contributors to ad spend growth by 2020. In recent years, search platforms, agencies, and brands have begun to apply ever more sophisticated artificial intelligence techniques to improve targeting, messaging and conversion. Both online and offline, search is becoming more integrated with commerce, as retailers use location and store inventory data to match active shoppers directly with the products they’re searching for. All this attracts higher performance budgets from brands.

Even though the natural next step is voice search, there has been little direct advertising through voice assistants so far. When users make a voice search, smart speakers usually present only the first organic result. Smartphones may present more results, but still not as many as a manual search. Therefore, brands need to identify the real keywords in order to produce content that puts them among organic results. Zenith believes brands need to concentrate on voice SEO.

Brands will need to focus more on content and SEO to secure first-place organic results for their most important keywords.

To a great extent, explains Zenith, social media advertising has grown so quickly because static ads have been replaced with more engaging video ads that have acted as complements to TV ads rather than as competitors, but platforms are now competing with television. Overall, Zenith expects social media adspend to grow by an average of 16% a year to 2020, twice the rate of paid search.

“Better use of AI and integration with retail is driving continued strong growth in paid search,” said Jonathan Barnard, Zenith’s Head of Forecasting and Director of Global Intelligence. “As voice search becomes more important, though, brands will need to focus more on content and SEO to secure first-place organic results for their most important keywords.”

“Voice search is just one way in which AI is transforming the way consumers search for information and entertainment, and the way brands communicate with consumers,” added Vittorio Bonori, Zenith’s Global Brand President. “By linking media investment with commerce, and broad awareness with personalisation at scale, technology is giving brands new tools to create growth.”