What Are The 10 Biggest Online Advertising Networks By Ad Spend?

The homepage of Google Ads.
Courtesy of Google.

 

Businesses around the globe appear to be spending more and more on digital advertising. More specifically, it’s estimated that in 2024, spending on digital advertising worldwide will reach $526.17 billion – up from 2020’s $332.84 billion.

In 2019, eMarketer estimated that digital advertising in the United States would surpass traditional advertising. Online ads are likely to become even more prominent in upcoming years and thus earn advertising networks billions and billions of extra dollars.

Advertising networks – such as the already immensely successful Google and Facebook – are thus likely to grow even further.

But how are things in 2020? Below are the largest ad networks by revenue – as of early February 2021.

 

Largest Ad Networks By Revenue In 2020

1. Google Ads – $146.92 billion

In 2020, Google’s advertising division generated revenue of $146.92 billion, which places it on the #1 position in this ranking. For comparison, in 2019, Google’s total ad revenue was $134.81 billion, so the company saw considerable growth in 2020.

Of 2020’s $146.92 billion, Google Search ads generated about $104.06 billion. YouTube advertisements brought in about $19.77 billion – approximately $4.6 billion more than in 2019.

Google’s total revenue in 2020 was $182.53 billion – over $20 billion more than in the previous year.

But despite the overall success, 2020 wasn’t at all problem-free for Google.

In the second quarter of 2020, Google’s revenue had declined for the first time ever. Among other things, Search revenue decreased from $23.64 to $21.32 billion compared to Q2 2019, whereas total advertising revenue declined from $32.49 to $29.87 billion.

In Q3 2020, however, Google again saw noticeable growth – total advertising revenue was about $37.1 billion (versus Q3 2019’s $33.80 billion). YouTube advertisement revenue increased by about 1.2 billion USD compared to Q3 as well – up to 5.04 billion US dollars.

2. Facebook – $84.169 billion

Homepage of Facebook Ads.
Courtesy of Facebook.

 

In 2020, Facebook generated 84.169 billion United States dollars in ad revenues. Facebook brings in ad revenue by displaying ads on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and third-party affiliated mobile applications or websites.

This was a new record for Facebook and a substantial increase from previous years. For comparison, ad revenues were $69.65 billion in 2019 and $55.01 billion in 2018. In 2009, Facebook’s ad revenue was only $764 million.

The average revenue per user has also increased noticeably in recent years, going from $6.81 in 2013 to $32.03 in 2020.

Ad revenue constitutes a major part of Facebook’s total revenue. In 2020, ads generated 97.9% of the company’s global revenue. The rest was generated by payments and other fees.

3. Alibaba – $27.05 billion projected (China)

As of June 2020, Alibaba was projected to generate $27.05 billion in ad revenue in China in 2020, which would represent 35.9% of the country’s digital ad dollars.

As a side note, China was projected to generate $75.33 billion in ad revenue in total in 2020, making it the second-largest country in terms of digital advertising after the US with $134.66 billion.

4. ByteDance – $27.2 billion projected (China)

On November 11, 2020, Reuters reported that Chinese technological company ByteDance (parent company of TikTok) was en route to generating at least $27.2 billion in ad revenue in China in 2020, which would solidify its #2 spot in the country’s digital advertisement market behind Alibaba.

In 2019, ByteDance overtook Baidu in ad revenue in the first half of 2019, becoming the second-largest player on the market with $7.6 billion digital ad spend (23% of China’s total digital ad dollars). Alibaba Group was in first place with $10.9 billion (33%).

Nearly 60% of ByteDance’s ad revenue comes from Douyin – the Chinese counterpart of TikTok. News aggregator Jinri Toutiao accounted for 20%, while the long-form video platform Xigua constituted 3% of the revenues.

It appears that the latest figure available for Alibaba is $27.05 billion. Although this is lower than ByteDance’s $27.2 billion, Reuters states that Alibaba was projected to be ahead of ByteDance in 2020, hence why Alibaba is on the #4 spot.

5. Amazon – Over $14.55 billion (the United States)

Homepage of Amazon Ads.
Courtesy of Amazon.

 

eMarketer has estimated that Amazon would earn $14.55 billion in net US digital ad revenues in 2020. The gross revenue will be even higher, but we need to wait for reports covering 2020 for more accurate figures.

In a financial report dated February 2, 2021, Amazon doesn’t explicitly list advertisement revenues. Instead, Amazon lists Other [5] and specifies that this category ”primarily includes sales of advertising services”.

Net sales for Other sources of income were about $21.48 billion in 2020 – a 66% year-to-year increase.

eMarketer estimates that Amazon’s US net ad revenue will reach $19.36 billion in 2021 and $24.97 billion in 2022.

6. Tencent – $9.49 billion projected (China)

eMarketer has estimated that Tencent’s ad revenue in 2020 would be $9.49 billion. According to eMarketer, this would put Tencent on the second spot by ad revenue in China after Alibaba. However, this doesn’t account for Reuter’s $27.2 billion figure for ByteDance.

7. Baidu – $7.85 billion projected (China)

The $7.85 billion ad revenue estimate again comes from eMarketer. The revenues of Baidu – known for the eponymous search engine, among other things – were projected to drop to their lowest point since 2016. $7.85 billion would also be a 14.3% drop year-over-year, after 2019’s decline of 8%.

8. Bing (Microsoft) – $7.74 billion

Homepage of Microsoft Ads.
Courtesy of Microsoft.

 

In the fiscal year 2020, Microsoft generated about $7.74 billion in search advertising revenue.

Throughout 2020, Microsoft’s search ad revenue has experienced a number of slowdowns. Among other things, Microsoft saw a 10% year-over-year drop in search advertising. Interestingly, Microsoft ad trends correlated with those of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

9. Twitter – About $3 billion expected

As of this material’s writing, the latest reports available from Twitter covered Q3 2020. According to Twitter’s Q3 report, advertising revenue in Q3 was $808.45 million – up from $702.26 million in Q3 2019.

By September 2020, Twitter’s total advertising revenue in 2020 was about $2.05 billion – down from $2.11 billion in the same period of 2019.

The company’s total revenue in Q3 2020 was $936.23 million (up nearly 113 million USD from Q3 2019), meaning that about 86% of Twitter’s revenue is ad-driven. In the first nine months of 2020, Twitter’s total revenue was about $2.43 billion (about $24 million down from previous year), meaning that approximately 84% of the company’s revenue was generated by advertising services.

As for Q4, analysts estimated in February 2021 that Twitter would report about $1.18 billion in total revenue. This could translate to over $3 billion in ad revenues for the entire 2020.

10. Snapchat – $2.5 billion

Homepage of Snapchat Ads.
Courtesy of Snapchat.

 

Snapchat’s ad revenue in 2020 was about $2.5 billion – up from 2019’s $1.72 billion. Advertisement revenue in 2020 made up 99% of the company’s total revenue. In 2019 and 2018, ad revenue constituted about 98% and 99% of total revenue respectively.

 

Honorable Mentions

A number of other ad networks would have made the list had it been limited to the U.S. only.

These would likely include:

Taboola – which did 1.2 billion worldwide in gross revenue last year, with a large chunk of that in the U.S.

Outbrain – which like Taboola focuses on native advertising, and which also reportedly grosses over one billion in advertising revenue per year.

Verizon Media – which contains AOL and Yahoo advertising, and also handles the native advertising for large sites such as Fox News. It does well into billions of revenue each quarter, however it is unclear if all of this can be quantified as “Digital Advertising”, as it seems the number also contains more traditional forms of media that fall within the panoply of Verizon Media interests.

 

 

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