Digital advertising’s future revenues and its effect on the valuation of Google and Facebook.

Digital Adverstising

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How much is Google worth? Today, its market cap — the total value of the company — was just over $690 billion. It is the largest media corporation in the world, earning $79 billion on media revenue out of a total of $90 billion in overall revenue. Eight seven percent of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. All the cool stuff you hear about — the self driving cars, Google Fiber, Nest, Verily, Calico Labs, Google Ventures, Google X — made less than $809 million — far less than one percent of total revenues.

And what about Facebook? Their market cap is just over $500 billion. They earned about $17 billion through advertising in 2015. They made a total of $18 billion in revenue that year, putting the percentage of their revenue from advertising at 95 percent.

Now what about traditional media companies? Let’s look at Disney, the largest “traditional” media company in the world. Disney made $55 billion in revenue last year. Of that revenue, just $8.5 billion of it came from advertising, or just 15 percent. This includes all the revenue from ABC, the various Disney channels, ESPN, and A&E. To be fair, Disney owns significant minority stakes in Hulu and Vice, and these revenues do not appear to be included in their annual report’s ad revenue accounting. We’ll put that aside, it only aids the argument I’m making here. Disney’s market cap is about $150 billion.

Disney, owing to its theme parks and significant merch business, is an extreme case, but the story is essentially the same for the other large traditional media companies. They all generally own film studios, cable companies and magazines that generate non-advertising revenue. A full 17 percent of Time Warner’s revenues come from HBO alone, making its ad-to-non-ad ratio better than either Facebook or Google. In total, just 43 percent of Time Warner’s revenue comes from advertising. For Viacom, it’s 38 percent.

Last year the entire world spent about $580 billion on advertising ……

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