Advertising Spending Continues Gradual Rebound Driven by Growth in Internet Media

Shakuntala Makhijani | Mar 26, 2013

Global expenditures on advertising grew 3.3 percent in 2012 to $497.3 billion.1 (See Figure 1.) The United States continues to account for the largest share of total spending, although its share is shrinking. U.S. advertising expenditures grew by 4.3 percent in 2012 and are still nearly a third of the global total.2The Asia Pacific region accounted for the fastest growth, however, with ad spending there increasing by 7.9 percent in 2012 (excluding Japan, which grew by 3.1 percent and is measured separately as a fully industrialized economy).3 Expenditures fell by 2.2 percent in Western Europe, the only region to see a decline, largely due to the ongoing Eurozone crisis.4 The 2012 growth continues the gradual rebound since advertising spending worldwide dropped by a sudden 9.6 percent in 2009 as a result of the global economic downturn. (See Figure 2.) 5

Advertising spending has responded to shifts in popular media. Internet advertising was the fastest-growing sector in 2012 and now accounts for 18 percent of the total.6 The growth in spending on Internet ads has been driven by the expansion of social media and online video advertising.7 Mobile and social media now account for more than half of all advertising revenue in the United States, for example, having increased by more than 30 percent in both 2011 and 2012.8

Advertising Figure 1

The growing share of Internet advertising has been accompanied by significant declines in print advertising. Over the past decade, the importance of newspaper advertising in particular has declined significantly, dropping from nearly a third of all expenditures in 2002 to less than a fifth in 2012.9 (See Figure 3.) Meanwhile, the expansion of television’s share of global advertising has leveled off after decades of growth: it rose from 36 percent to 40 percent of advertising expenditures between 2000 and 2012.10


The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization known around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Learn More