Advertising’s COVID Consolidation

The triumvirate of Amazon, Facebook and Google surge to even bigger dominance in the field.

Fueled by their ability to target audiences by attitudinal and intentional factors in addition to demographic characteristics, the “Big Three” platforms of Facebook, Amazon and Google were already heavy hitters in the advertising realm well-before COVID-19 burst on the scene.

To wit, they accounted for nearly 50% of all advertising expenditures in the United States in 2019.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, resulting in changes overnight in how people work and live.  Thanks to lockdowns — and with more people than ever glued to digital platforms for everything from business communications to entertainment and online shopping — advertisers found the audience-targeting capabilities of the Big Three platform too irresistible.

So in 2020, even as every other kind of ad spending shrank – including double-digit drops seen in newspaper, TV and billboard advertising – online advertising continued to grow.  Even more significantly, the biggest gains in online advertising accrued to the Big Three tech giants rather than to digital media sites and publishers that sell online ads.

When the dust settled, 2020 turned out to be the first year the Big Three swept up more than half of all ad dollars spent in the United States, according to an analysis by ad agency GroupM

… And in online advertising specifically, the Big Three’s share jumped from an already dominant ~80% in 2019 to nearly 90% in 2020. Ad industry veteran Tim Armstrong (formerly in executive positions at AOL and Google), puts it succinctly:

“[The] companies that are data science-driven get stronger and faster with a tailwind of usage — and COVID was a hurricane.”

The coronavirus environment proved to be fertile ground for the Big Three even in areas previously inhospitable to them — including such categories as store promotions, catalogues and couponing.

As the nation emerges from the COVID environment in the coming months, one wonders if the newly dominant position of the Big Three will retrench in any meaningful way.  Speaking personally, I wouldn’t bet money on it.  But what are your thoughts?

Saying “goodbye and good riddance” to 2020 with a bit of humor …

The year 2020 is one that many people would just as soon see well-behind us, and I’m sure that everyone hopes that 2021 will mark a major improvement, too.

This year has also generated more than its share of gallows humor – proving yet again that “making light of misery” has its place in social discourse.

Along those lines, several friends/colleagues who live and work in Europe and Asia have shared a bit of that humor, and it definitely elicited a chuckle from me. 

So with credit to these two gents, here are “Ten Things to Ponder” as 2020 draws to a close:

  • The dumbest thing I bought this year was a 2020 planner.
  • 2019:  Stay away from negative people.  2020:  Stay away from positive people.
  • The world has turned upside down:  Old folks are sneaking out of the house and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors.
  • This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her cat.  It was obvious she thought her cat understood her.  Back home I told the dog – we had a good laugh.
  • Every few days, try your jeans on just to make sure they fit.  Sweatpants will have you believing that all’s right with the world.
  • Does anyone know if we can take showers yet, or should we just keep washing our hands?
  • We never thought the comment “I wouldn’t touch them with a 10-ft. pole” would become a national policy …
  • I really need to practice social distancing – from the fridge.
  • I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the backyard.  I am tired of the living room.
  • Never in a million years could I have imagined I would walk up to a bank teller while wearing a mask and ask for money.

What are your “imponderables” for 2020?  Feel free to share them with other readers here.