Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Digital Ad Revenue Surpasses Other Media

For the first time ever, digital advertising – led by Facebook and Google – has eclipsed not only print advertising but also TV and radio as well.

Advertisers in the US will spend $129 billion on digital media in 2019, according to estimates from eMarketer. That’s 16 percent more than the $109 billion they’ll spend on traditional media this year.

This is the first time online ads have eclipsed traditional media. As recently as four years ago, digital ads brought in less than half the revenue of print, radio and broadcast sources.

Which means if you’re still putting the bulk of your ad dollars into the Yellow Pages and magazines, you might want to rethink your marketing strategy.

“The digital ad industry in the US has been growing steadily for years, primarily thanks to two behemoths, Facebook and Google,” reports Recode. “This tipping point is a good reminder of how dominant these businesses actually are.”

Facebook + Google = 60 Percent of Digital Ads

The digital dominance has occurred even though Facebook and Google experienced formidable challenges in recent years. Some industry experts thought their bottom lines would suffer in the wake of Congressional hearings and widespread concern over privacy and data security.

But while user numbers have dipped slightly – at least in the US – their ad revenue keeps rising.

“Facebook and Google made up a combined 60 percent of the digital ad industry in the US last year, which equates to roughly $65 billion in revenue,” says Recode. “They’ll lose a little market share this year — eMarketer estimates they’ll combine for 59 percent of the industry in 2019 — but their haul will be even greater. The two are estimated to bring in a combined $77 billion in the US next year.”

Coming in at number three for digital ad revenue is Amazon, which will claim nearly nine percent of the market in 2019 – up from a paltry one percent in 2015.

Hardest hit are newspapers and magazines, whose ad sales will drop an estimated 18 percent this year alone. Directories like the Yellow Pages are seeing even greater losses.

Rules of Professional Conduct Applicable to Digital Ads

  • Rule 7.1 Communications About Legal Services: “(a) A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. A communication is false or misleading if it: (1) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading; (2) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law: (3) compares the lawyer's services with other lawyers' services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated.”
  • Rule 7.2 Advertising: “(a) Subject to the requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.”
  • Rule 7.2, Comment 3: “Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Television, the Internet, and other forms of electronic communication are now among the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television, Internet, and other forms of electronic advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public.”
  • Rule 7.2, Comment 5: “Electronic communication(s), as used in Section 7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, refers to the transfer of writing, signals, data, sounds, images, signs or intelligence via an electronic device or over any electronic medium. Examples of electric communications include, but are not limited to, websites, email, text messages, social media messaging and image sharing. A lawyer who sends electronic communications to advertise or market the lawyer’s professional services must comply with these Rules and with any state or federal restrictions on such communications.”



About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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