Welcome to the tenth edition of Global Intelligence, Zenith’s quarterly magazine.

This edition is quite different from previous ones. Mainly, it’s a lot smaller. That’s because we’ve decided to focus this magazine on the big-picture business trends that we track in our various forecasts, principally our Advertising Expenditure Forecasts. We are preparing a new product to showcase Zenith insights and opinions, which we will launch in 2020, and so have removed the insight pieces from Global Intelligence magazine.

In this edition we put together our regular adspend forecasts with work we have been doing to track media inflation across the world, and find that media inflation has been running consistently ahead of adspend growth throughout the decade. That means that the value of media bought by advertisers – effectively, the total commercial audience that they reach – has been falling steadily.

Inflation has been highest in digital media, where the giant platforms have been tightening their grip on the market and reducing competition. In 2015 Google, Facebook and Amazon accounted for 69% of digital ad revenues outside China; by 2018 their share rose to 86%. Much of their growth has come from small businesses that have injected new demand into the market without the value management expected by larger advertisers.

Television is the next most inflationary medium, even though adspend isn’t rising at all. That’s because demand is stable – television is still the most effective means of generating mass awareness, a key component of brand building – while ratings are shrinking in key markets, making the remaining audiences even more valuable. These lost viewers are turning to online video, where they are faced with vastly increased choice among platforms and content, much of which is funded through subscription rather than advertising. Audiences are fragmenting, and some of them are becoming less reachable for brands.

The challenge for brands therefore lies in mitigating inflation and rebuilding mass audiences in a digital world. This means investing in technology and data and a lot of hard work – creating mass awareness will never again be as easy as it used to be.