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Global spending on digital marketing nears $100 billion, according to Moore Stephens survey

Digital spend grew by 44% last year in the United States and Britain to $52 billion, found a study, estimating that global outlays on such tactics are approaching $100 billion

The Moore Stephens survey, conducted with the advertising and media consultancy WARC, covered 800 companies in North America, the Asia-Pacific and Europe.

It found that brands in Britain and North America spent 23% of their budgets on martech, up from 16% a year ago. Also, 63% of US technology budgets were spent in-house, compared with 44% last year.

The growth in part reflects a desire to take functions in house following high-profile complaints by consumer giants Procter & Gamble and Unilever over fraud in online advertising.

The issue of ‘brand safety’, which is often put in jeopardy when ads appear next to unsuitable online content, has frustrated marketers and has often encouraged them to seek greater control over how they target audiences.

Damian Ryan, a study partner at UK accountancy firm Moore Stephens, stated:”Clearly marketers are seeking to build in-house strength and are set to spend more on martech to remain competitive.”

“Our research finds that this budget is coming from media spend and will have a resounding impact on the value of media-centric agencies,” he added, referring to traditional ad agencies that are struggling to adapt to the digital era.

Strict European data protection rules that took effect in May, as well as concerns over the controversial data practices of search giant Google and social network Facebook – the two biggest online advertising platforms – have led several players in the ad industry to merge or regroup.

“We’re at the beginning of the shakeout,” Ryan told Reuters in an interview. He also emphasized that the emergence of platform companies that offer a one-stop shop for marketers is another trend to watch—highlighting Adobe Systems’ acquisition in May of e-commerce company Magento for $1.7bn.

Adobe meanwhile, has just struck another deal, to buy business-to-business marketing software firm Marketo, for $4.75bn.

“Fundamentally, brands don’t like to trust agencies with data. The clear trend shows that brands are seeking to take control over marketing technology,” stated Ryan.

“Against that, we can see that, at the upper end where brands are spending more, they are still working with agencies.” He added.

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