Underlying growth in global adspend is slowing in 2019, according to GroupM’s latest worldwide media forecasts, and is expected to pick up only marginally in 2020.

This Year, Next Year notes the various tensions affecting the global economy – from the ongoing China-US trade war through Brexit to other geopolitical disputes – and observes that a number of factors currently supporting growth may only be temporary.

“We can see the global advertising industry in a similar light, with emerging signs of deceleration,” the report said.

More specifically, an underlying growth figure of 5.6% in 2018 is predicted to slip to 4.6% this year and remain more or less steady at 4.7% in 2020.

“While the economic foundations supporting the advertising industry are somewhat fragile at this time, growth trends are holding up for now,” said Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence, GroupM.

Headline figures bounce around, thanks in part to the effects of US political advertising which by itself accounted for 1.5% of the world’s advertising total in 2018 and which GroupM says will represent more with every passing election cycle. Adding in political advertising in the US, total global growth will be more like 6.0% in 2020.

Last week, Wieser described political spending in 2018’s mid-terms as “shockingly high” at $8.7bn (coincidentally the same figure was spent in the India’s recent general election) and pointed out that “there’s just generally more activity in a presidential year than a nonpresidential year, so whatever the 2018 number was, 2020 was going to be bigger” – $9.9bn is GroupM’s current estimate.

Globally, then, the US remains a key driver of the industry’s ongoing expansion, but so too are China, Brazil, India and the UK: these five collectively account for well over half of growth in 2019 and 2020.

And that US political factor also feeds into forecasts for TV spending, which is predicted to fall 3% this year before picking up again by 1.5% in the presidential election year of 2020.

Unsurprisingly, internet-related activity dominates the global advertising marketplace, and will take over 50% of advertising expenditure in 2020, double its 2014 share. But as digital media matures, GroupM expects its share will eventually plateau and that growth will decelerate with each passing year to eventually converge with global averages.

Sourced from GroupM, Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff