The top 30 media owners in the world

Google and Facebook attracted 20% of global advertising spending last year, nearly double the figure of five years ago, research shows.

Internet-only media companies are grabbing the biggest slices of the online advertising market, while traditional news publishers have fallen far behind and been forced to make cutbacks, according to Zenith's annual report Top Thirty Global Media Owners.

Google, owned by parent company Alphabet, is by far the biggest media owner in the world and attracted US$79.4bn in ad revenue in 2016, three times more than the second-largest, Facebook, which pulled in US$26.9bn, according to Zenith. The previous year, Alphabet took US$67.4bn of ad revenue and Facebook US$17.1bn.

Together, the two companies accounted for nearly 20% of global advertising spending last year, up from 16.3% in 2015 and 10.6% in 2012. The largest traditional media owner is US broadcasting and cable television company Comcast, which was third with $12.9bn in ad revenues in 2016, up from $11.5bn the year before.

Ranking of top 30 global media owners 2017

Rank Media owner Rank Media owner
1 Alphabet 16 Advance Publications
2 Facebook 17 JCDecaux
3 Comcast 18 News Corporation
4 Baidu 19 Grupo Globo
5 The Walt Disney Company 20 CCTV
6 21st Century Fox 21 Verizon
7 CBS Corporation 22 Mediaset
8 iHeartMedia Inc. 23 Discovery Communications
9 Microsoft 24 TEGNA
10 Bertelsmann 25 ITV
11 Viacom 26 ProSiebenSat.1 Group
12 Time Warner 27 Sinclair Broadcasting Group
13 Yahoo 28 Axel Springer
14 Tencent 29 Scripps Networks Interactive
15 Hearst 30 Twitter

Digital platforms funded by internet ads dominate the top 30. Aside from Alphabet and Facebook, there are five pure internet media owners in the ranking: Baidu, Microsoft, Yahoo, Verizon and Twitter. Between them, the seven digital platforms generated US$132.8bn of internet ad revenue in 2016, accounting for nearly three-quarters of all internet ad spend, and nearly one-quarter of total ad spend.

Despite its large share of the ad market, Google faces a growing boycott from major advertisers and has promised an overhaul of its advertising policies.

Most of the media owners in the ranking – 20 out of 30 – are based in the US. The US dominates for several reasons: it has the biggest ad market, US companies have invested the most in extending their reach abroad and Silicon Valley innovation has powered the growth of internet advertising.

China and Germany each have three media owners in the ranking: Baidu, Tencent and CCTV for China, and Bertelsmann, ProSiebenSat.1 and Axel Springer for Germany. There are four countries with one media owner each: the UK (ITV), France (JCDecaux), Brazil (Grupo Globo) and Italy (Mediaset).

Jonathan Barnard, head of forecasting at Zenith, said: “Zenith’s new ranking demonstrates just how much the internet advertising platforms are setting the pace for global ad spend growth. Google and Facebook alone have accounted for almost two-thirds of global ad spend growth since 2012.”