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Social media overtakes paid search as world’s largest advertising channel

Social media is now the world’s largest channel for advertising investment, with Western platforms growing the fastest driven by Chinese brands targeting US and European audiences.

WARC Media said that social media has overtaken paid search in advertising investment and is forecasted to reach $247.3 billion this year, up 14.3 per cent from a year ago. This, however, reflects a slight decrease from the 16 per cent growth in the previous year.

“Much of social media’s success has been driven by Meta’s remarkable renaissance. However, social’s stronghold on budgets can also be seen in TikTok’s rise, and a return to double digit ad revenue growth at Snapchat and Pinterest.” said Alex Brownsell, head of content at WARC Media.

WARC Media forecasts Meta to earn $155.6 billion in ad revenue this year, accounting for 63.0 per cent of global social spend, thanks to investments from Chinese exporters and the popularity of its artificial intelligence tools.

Meanwhile, Tiktok is estimated to earn $23.1 billion this year, up 18.3 per cent.

While WARC Media expects Pinterest’s ad revenue to rise 17.3 per cent, it forecasts X’s revenue to decline 6.4 per cent globally and 5.1 per cent in the US.

“The challenge remains to enable brands to leverage their own data and analytics to understand target audiences at a deeper level, enabling personalised experiences across all mediums,” said Gillian Collison, global head of social at GroupM.

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