Welcome to the ninth edition of Global Intelligence magazine, Zenith’s quarterly magazine about the global transformation of media and communications worldwide.


This edition marks the first time that we have explicitly forecast internet advertising to capture half of all global advertising expenditure. In fact it will do rather more than that, commanding 52% of global adspend in 2021. However, there’s a big split between small local advertisers, of which there are millions, and which spend all or almost all of their budgets online, and the big brands, which on average spend considerably less than half online. The appropriate level of spending on internet advertising varies from brand to brand, depending on how actively its potential customers engage with online media at each point in the consumer journey, and varies according to each campaign’s requirements for awareness, targeting and activation.

The growth of internet advertising is also slowing sharply, having maintained a pace of about 20% a year from 2013 to 2017. Internet adspend grew 17% in 2018, but by 2021 we expect internet adspend growth to have fallen to 9% year on year. The growth rate of the internet ad market is starting to converge with the growth rate of the market as a whole, which we forecast at 4%-5% a year to 2021.

One of the consistent themes of this magazine is how technology is opening up new opportunities for brands to communicate with consumers. In this edition we examine how augmented reality is beginning to fulfil its promise to create unique content with rich connections with consumers. We also look at how blockchain technology can be used to tackle real problems for brands, including ad fraud and lack of transparency in digital advertising.

Commerce has also been a common theme in recent editions. This time we show how data and technology can help brands and retailers work together more effectively, and why direct-to-consumer brands are here to stay.

For this edition we put our spotlight on the healthcare category. This varies a lot from country to country, according to regulations and custom. But generally we find that the most effective forms of brand communications tend to be personal recommendations, paid media near the point of sale, and search results that offer solutions to current problems.

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