Google US ad revenues are projected to decline 5.3% in 2020

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Google's net US digital ad revenues will decline this year for the first time since eMarketer began estimating ad revenues at the world's leading digital publisher in 2008. We forecast that Google will bring in $39.58 billion in US digital ad revenues excluding traffic and content acquisition costs (TAC and CAC) this year, down 5.3% from 2019. This represents a downward revision of more than $7 billion from our early-March forecast, which was created prior to the pandemic-related economic slowdown in the US.

The sharp pullback of spending by the travel industry accounts for the largest share of Google's US ad revenues declines. It accounted for about 11% of search ad spending in the US last year, and that spending was heavily concentrated on Google products.

This year, travel industry players including and Expedia are pulling billions in spending. Spending has been dampened across other industries as well. YouTube's net US ad revenues will still be up this year, by 16.8%, but that growth won't be enough to outweigh the negative trends in search.

We have also revised our forecasts down for other major digital ad sellers, including:

  • Facebook. Net US digital ad revenues at Facebook (including all owned and operated properties as well as Facebook Audience Network) will increase by 4.9% this year to $31.43 billion. That's about $4.82 billion less than we predicted in early March.
  • Instagram. We've revised our forecast for Instagram's net US digital ad revenues downward by almost $2.5 billion, to $16.03 billion. Still, that represents $3.63 billion in incremental spending, compared to less than $2 billion in incremental spending on the entire Facebook family—meaning non-Instagram Facebook spending will actually decline this year.
  • Amazon. Ecommerce may be a bright spot during the pandemic—but that's in relative terms. Amazon will outperform most other major US digital ad sellers this year, but we did revise our expectations downward by about $920 million. We now forecast 23.5% growth for Amazon's net US digital ad revenues this year, to $12.75 billion.

The triopoly's share of US digital ad spending will remain flat, with Amazon and Facebook making slight gains on Google. In 2019, we estimated that Google, Facebook and Amazon together netted 62.0% of the US digital ad spending pie. That figure will rise slightly to 62.2% in 2020. Amazon will gain 1.7 percentage points of the total, rising to 9.5%, as Google falls to 29.4%, down 2.2 points. Facebook will also pick up 0.7 percentage points of market share, reaching 23.4% of the total.

Looking at the search ad market alone, we expect an acceleration of previous trends, where Amazon was gaining share as Google was slowly losing it. Still, Google will have a solid lead, netting 58.5% of US search ad revenues this year, compared with 17.1% at Amazon.

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