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Online Advertising Spend Is Expected To Surpass Offline Advertising For The First Time Ever

4 minute read | February 2017


Despite the New Economic Normal Situation, Digital Advertising is Driving Growth Online

Hong Kong – February 15, 2017 – The year 2017 is expected to be another year filled with local and global uncertainties.  Despite a cautious outlook, almost half of the advertisers in Hong Kong (48%) believe that the economy has stabilized and will remain the same as the previous year, while 6% of advertisers expect economic conditions to improve.  This is in stark contrast to last year in which 82% of advertisers believed that the market would continue to worsen according to figures from the latest AdSpend Projection survey conducted by Nielsen in partnership with the Hong Kong Advertisers Association.

As the survey also shows, advertisers are looking to increase their advertising spending in 2017 as 26% said their budget will increase while 48% said their budget will remain unchanged. Advertisers are also looking to shift more focus from offline to online and mobile. It appears that 2017 will be the first time ever for online advertising spending (51%) to surpass that of offline (49%). 

In 2016, overall advertising expenditure declined by 9.1% to HK$41.6 billion (2015: HK$45.8 billion)*. According to the surveyed advertisers, in 2016, 58% of their advertising expenditure was consumed in offline advertising, while online web advertising and online mobile advertising each accounted for 21%.

Among the 51% of online budget, over half is expected to be paid ad, 28% use content marketing.  Advertisers believe that online marketing is more relevant for their target markets (74%) and can improve the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns (74%). Expanding the reach (63%) and adding more touch points (52%) are also some of the key reasons for the shift.

“Amidst the rapidly evolving media landscape, online advertising channels will soon overtake and share center stage with offline media as key marketing channels for business operators. This trend of omni-channel marketing is expected to move forward in the coming years as additional online platforms and channels are expected to emerge. Cross media placement and cross platform measurement are therefore becoming more important than ever to engaging with the consumer across screens and devices,” said Cherry Lau, Senior Director, Media, Nielsen Hong Kong.

As the media landscape continues to evolve, increasing media fragmentation (45%), difficulty of calculating return on investment (42%) and understanding customer interactions across channels (40%) will be the key marketing challenges.

“The past two years have been a testing period for marketers in terms of some of the newly emerging digital marketing platforms. In 2017, we are seeing advertisers that are more confident investing in online marketing. Top management is also confident, having seen the massive growth and opportunity of online investment as technology platforms mature,” said Raymond Ho, Chairman of the Hong Kong Advertisers Association.

“We believe the true path to success for advertisers and marketers is to first understand the consumers’ intention and demands, resonate with customized content for different audience segments, and then optimize the content across key platforms. In this digital era, advertisers must measure their ad performance and further adapt their strategy in order to optimize their ROI and better engage the consumer,” Lau suggested. 

About the Survey on Advertising Spending and Projections 2017

The Survey on Advertising Spending and Projections 2017 was conducted between December 2, 2016 and January 10, 2017 by Nielsen. The survey covered various commercial sectors including top-spending advertisers and concentrated on both their planned advertising spending and business focuses in 2017. Close to 100 self-administered questionnaires were received from key advertisers and screened for final analysis, which provide timely reference on the trends of advertising expenditure, media selection and planning, and the media landscape for 2017.  Telephone interviews were also conducted with randomly selected advertisers for qualitative feedback.

*Data source : admanGo, adspend figures have taken into consideration the discount factor based on an assumption of 60% off the rate card rate

ABOUT NIELSENNielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. The Company’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Nielsen Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global

view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

ABOUT HK2AHK2A is a non-profit organization formed by a volunteer group of advertising and marketing professionals. The key objectives of the Association are to protect the legitimate interests of advertisers and promote higher professional standards and ethics in the advertising industry. Adspend Projections has been one of the flagship annual events organized by HK2A in the past 18 years.  For more information, please go to

CONTACT:Cheryl Wen,, +886 2 2171 5590, +886 935 803 727 (mobile)