Samsung overtakes P&G as world's largest advertiser

China's Alibaba and Tencent also ratchet up marketing as internet players power Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers

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There's a new world order among the Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers as Samsung Electronics Co. takes the top spot from Procter & Gamble Co.

The South Korean consumer electronics and appliance marketer pumped $11.2 billion into advertising and sales promotion in 2017, a 13 percent increase. That moved it ahead of packaged-goods powerhouse P&G, which spent an estimated $10.5 billion on advertising and other marketing costs in the year ended June 2018, little changed from the previous year.

Samsung's 2017 'The New Normal' spot showed technology through the eyes of an emerging generation.
Samsung's 2017 'The New Normal' spot showed technology through the eyes of an emerging generation. Credit: Samsung

Direct correlation or not, Samsung increased spending as it worked to get past the highly publicized 2016 recall of its Galaxy Note 7 phone following issues of exploding batteries.

The new ranking of the 100 biggest spenders comes from Ad Age Datacenter's all-in assessment of reported or estimated total spending on advertising, marketing services (including promotion and direct marketing) and digital marketing.

P&G is still the world's largest spender on a narrower definition of advertising. P&G reported $7.1 billion in advertising costs in the year ended June 2018, including TV, print, radio, internet and in-store ads. Samsung's reported advertising expenses, excluding its massive sales promotion budget, came in at $4.8 billion in 2017.

Total ad spending for the Ad Age World's 100 Largest Advertisers rose 4.9 percent to $279 billion in 2017, with spending increases at 68 companies. The ranking includes a roster of global brand marketers from Samsung to Mazda Motor Corp. (No. 100 on the list at $1.1 billion).

By Ad Age’s calculation, 105 companies had 2017 worldwide ad spending greater than $1 billion.

The top 100 ranking includes four Chinese marketers that collectively boosted 2017 worldwide spending 45 percent. Most of their spending was in China, the second-largest ad market.

Alibaba Group Holding, China's biggest online retailer, more than doubled 2017 worldwide ad and promotion spending to $2.7 billion, the fastest growth among the top 100 spenders.

Ad and promotion spending at Chinese internet power Tencent Holdings surged 46 percent to $2 billion, the second-highest growth.

SAIC Motor Corp., China’s largest domestic auto group, boosted ad spending 23 percent to $2 billion. Yili Group, the country's largest dairy marketer, increased ad spending 6 percent to $1.2 billion.

Internet-centric marketers dominate Ad Age’s tally of the world's fastest-growing ad spenders. Alphabet (Google), Netflix and Amazon boosted 2017 spending 32 percent, 29 percent and 26 percent, respectively.

The top 100 ranking includes 10 internet-age companies—Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Netflix, Tencent and five others—that last year collectively increased global ad spending by 29.6 percent. Spending for the remaining 90 companies rose 2.6 percent.

Amazon vaulted to the No. 7 spot from No. 11 among global advertisers with ad and promotion spending of $6.3 billion, tied with AT&T.

Ad Age ranked AT&T on a pro forma basis using the sum of 2017 spending for AT&T ($3.8 billion) and WarnerMedia, formerly Time Warner ($2.5 billion). AT&T acquired Time Warner in June.

Personal care and household products was the biggest category among the Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers with 14 marketers spending $52 billion. Automotive was second with 16 automakers spending $47 billion.

The top 100 includes 47 companies based in North America, 31 in Europe and 22 in Asia.

The U.S. is home to 44 of the marketers, followed by Japan (13), Germany (10) and France (nine).

Ten of the Ad Age World’s Largest Advertisers had no significant U.S. measured-media spending in 2017: Automakers PSA Group and Renault (France) and SAIC (China); retailers Aeon Co. (Japan), Carrefour (France) and Rewe Group (Germany); telecoms Telefónica (Spain) and Vodafone Group (U.K.); and China's Tencent and Yili.

The global ranking complements the Ad Age Leading National Advertisers report (AdAge.com/lna2018); 66 of the 100 biggest U.S. spenders (and 80 of the 200 biggest U.S. spenders) made the ranking of the top 100 global spenders.

Ad Age World's Five Largest Advertisers
By 2017 total worldwide advertising spending.
Rank Marketer Headquarters Category 2017 total worldwide advertising spending
1 Samsung Electronics Co. South Korea Technology $11.2B
2 Procter & Gamble Co. U.S. Personal care 10.5B
3 L'Oréal France Personal care 8.6B
4 Unilever U.K./Netherlands Personal care 8.5B
5 Nestlé Switzerland Food and beverages 7.2B
Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers: Top five $46.1B
Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers: Top 100 $279.0B
Source: Ad Age Datacenter. Total worldwide advertising spending from Ad Age Datacenter estimates and company financial filings. Numbers rounded. Full report including ranking of top 100, profiles and expanded footnotes: AdAge.com/globalmarketers2018.
1. Samsung: Advertising and sales promotion. 2. Procter & Gamble: Year ended June 2018. Estimated spending on advertising plus other marketing costs. 5. Nestlé: Estimated "consumer facing" marketing expenses. Spending estimate based on a revision to Ad Age's spending model.
Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers: Fastest-growing spenders
Chinese online retailer Alibaba more than doubled advertising and promotion spending in 2017.
Rank Marketer Headquarters Category 2017 total worldwide advertising spending Percent change vs. 2016
1 Alibaba Group Holding China Retail $2.7B 105%
2 Tencent Holdings China Entertainment and media 2.0B 46
3 Viacom U.S. Entertainment and media 1.3B 35
4 Kering France Apparel 1.4B 34
5 Alphabet (Google) U.S. Entertainment and media 5.1B 32
Source: Ad Age Datacenter. Total worldwide advertising spending based on Ad Age estimates and company disclosures. Numbers rounded.
Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers by category
Fourteen personal care and household products marketers in 2017 accounted for about $52 billion or nearly one-fifth of ad spending for Ad Age World's 100 Largest Advertisers. Sixteen automakers made the top 100 ranking with spending of $47 billion.
Category Number of marketers 2017 total worldwide advertising spending Share of top 100's spending
Personal care and household products 14 $51.6B 18.5%
Automotive 16 47.1B 16.9
Entertainment and media 11 29.8B 10.7
Retail 14 26.7B 9.6
Food and beverages 7 20.9B 7.5
Technology 6 18.9B 6.8
Beer, wine and liquor 6 17.8B 6.4
Telecommunications 7 17.3B 6.2
Financial services 6 13.2B 4.7
Apparel 4 12.7B 4.5
Pharmaceuticals 4 8.1B 2.9
Travel 2 7.8B 2.8
Restaurants 3 7.1B 2.6
Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers: Top 100 100 $279.0B 100.0%
For marketers that operate in multiple categories, Ad Age assigned marketer to its most-advertised category. Ad Age combined personal care and household products categories.

About Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers 2018

Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers 2018 is the 32nd annual global report produced by Ad Age Datacenter. A summary of Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers appears in the Dec. 3, 2018, print edition. The complete report is online.

Ad Age Datacenter subscribers can access the full Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers ranking and a global database showing company profiles, executives and key agency relationships at AdAge.com/globalmarketers2018.

Spending for Ad Age World's Largest Advertisers is from Ad Age Datacenter estimates and company disclosures. Total worldwide advertising spending encompasses advertising, marketing services (including promotion and direct marketing) and digital marketing (including social media). Ad Age translated currencies to U.S. dollars at average exchange rates.

The global database also breaks out measured-media spending for top advertisers by country based on Ad Age Datacenter's analysis of spending data from media tracking services. Links to tracking services are available at AdAge.com/globalmarketers2018.

Datacenter directors: Kevin Brown, Bradley Johnson. Senior research editor: Catherine Wolf. Research assistants: Arabella Breck, Felicia Darnell, Clair Hauser, Tiana Pigford, Jacob Wittich. West Coast editor: Angela Doland.

© Copyright 2018 Crain Communications Inc. The data and information presented is the property of Crain and others and is protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. For personal, noncommercial use only, which must be in accordance with Ad Age's Terms and Conditions at AdAge.com/terms. Archiving, reproduction, redistribution or other uses are prohibited. For licensing arrangements, please contact [email protected].

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