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Google is top global media owner: ZenithOptimedia

MUMBAI: Google’s dominance as the world’s largest media owner has increased, with the gap between it and its nearest competitor widening significantly over the past year.

According to ZenithOptimedia’s new report ‘Top Thirty Global Media Owners 2015’, Google is now 136 per cent bigger than the second-largest media owner Disney, up from 115 per cent a year earlier. It is also bigger than the second-largest and third-largest Comcast combined.

There are five purely digital media owners in the global top 30 – Google, Facebook, Baidu, Yahoo! and Microsoft. Between them they generated $71 billion in media revenue, which represents 68 per cent of all global digital ad spend, up from 67 per cent in the previous report. Power in the digital advertising market is concentrated in the hands of a few large platforms, and is becoming even more concentrated.

Facebook is the fastest-growing media owner in ZenithOptimedia’s global top 30 list.

Google has benefited from the rising sales of smartphones and tablets, making its central search function available to consumers on the move – especially useful for shoppers looking for price comparison – and allowed consumers to view content at times and places most convenient for them. This has created new opportunities to target them with display ads, another important component of Google’s business.

But the main beneficiary of the transition to mobile has been Facebook, which is the fastest growing of the top 30 media owners. Facebook’s media revenues grew by 63 per cent over the past year. Facebook has actively embraced mobile technology in order to encourage its users to visit it regularly and frequently throughout the day, while designing its ads to blend seamlessly into the content feed. Facebook is the 10th largest media owner in the ranking.

The next-fastest growing company is Baidu – China’s equivalent of Google – which grew by 43 per cent over the year. Baidu’s growth has been driven by the rapid development of China’s ad market, as well as improvements in search technology, and it is now the world’s 14th-largest media owner, ahead of digital rivals Yahoo! (18th) and Microsoft (21st).

The third-fastest growing company is Grupo Globo, Brazil’s principal media owner, whose media revenues grew 15 per cent year on year. Like Baidu, Globo has benefited from its presence in a fast-growing emerging ad market, but Brazil’s recent economic difficulties are likely to limit further growth in the short term.

There is only one other media owner in top 30 that is based in an emerging market and that is CCTV, China’s national state television company. CCTV accounts for about a quarter of China’s television ad market – the third-largest in the world – and has more than tripled in size over the past decade. Chinese television is now facing stiff competition for ad budgets from online video and digital media in general, and CCTV too is likely to find it tough to increase its revenues from its core business.

The report is a ranking of the world’s largest media companies by media revenue, as estimated by ZenithOptimedia. The report was launched in 2007 and was last published by ZenithOptimedia in 2014. ZenithOptimedia defines media revenue as all revenue deriving from businesses that support advertising, to determine which companies are most important for the marketing industry.

ZenithOptimedia’s head of forecasting Jonathan Barnard said, “The rapid growth of digital media and emerging ad markets has strengthened the position of media owners such as Google, Facebook, Baidu and Globo, at the expense of traditional media owners in developed markets. The top digital media owners currently maintain a strong grip on the digital ad market, but they face the constant threat of displacement by disruptive innovators. While some emerging-market media owners face challenges in expanding their businesses in the short term, we expect to see more media owners from emerging markets enter the top 30 over the next few years.”

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