Magna raises U.S. ad forecast for 2018, but not everyone can win

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The U.S. ad market is expected to generate $197 billion in revenue this year, a 5.5 percent increase from 2017, according to a new forecast out of Magna. That's up from Magna's previous estimate, which predicted 5 percent growth.

It also bests the 2.7 percent rise in 2017, which of course reflects the benefit of this year's cyclical events like the mid-term elections, Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup. Excluding those, Magna predicts ad sales will grow 3.7 percent. That's slightly slower than the 4.5 percent increase seen in 2017 when adjusting for events last year.

Digital is growing at a faster clip than Magna previously expected, poised to control half of all ad dollars in 2018. Formats like search, video, display and social are expected to bring in 50 percent of total ad sales this year, one year earlier than previously anticipated, according to Magna. Digital ad sales are projected to grow by 14 percent this year to $97 billion, with almost 60 percent of that coming from mobile.

But traditional media like TV, print and radio are, unsurprisingly, continuing to erode. Traditional offline ad revenues are expected to shrink by 5 percent to $96 billion. National TV is expected to be flat, local TV will grow by 10 percent, out-of-home will increase by 2 percent, print will decline 18 percent and linear radio will fall 4 percent, according to Magna.

In 2017, digital advertising grew 18 percent, while traditional offline ad sales declined by nearly 5 percent.

Banner ads decline

Nearly every digital format saw growth last year outside of static banner ads, which shrank by 9 percent due to ad blocking, lower inventory and stagnant pricing. And digital growth was entirely concentrated on mobile, which grew 40 percent to $48 billion. Non-mobile impression revenues on desktop declined by 2 percent.

TV posted a 2.2 decline as inventory shrank at an accelerated rate in 2017 thanks to ratings dropping anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent depending on the time of day and demographics. And no broadcasting segment was spared by the decrease in ad revenue, according to Magna.

TV companies were able to mitigate some of the decline in traditional linear ad sales by better cashing in on their digital platforms, with $1.7 billion coming from the likes of Hulu, full episode players and over-the-top streaming, a 12 percent increase from 2016. But it still wasn't enough to offset the erosion in traditional TV ad sales.

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