In the battle for digital ad dollars, it's Google, Facebook and then who?
That's the question marketers are asking as they try to spend effectively on the Web, and even more so on mobile, where traffic is shifting.
Heading into quarterly earnings reports next week, Google and Facebook utterly dominate digital advertising, according to eMarketer.
The two alone control 49 percent of the U.S. digital advertising market and 52 percent of mobile ads. (Tweet This) Way below them, the No. 3, 4 and 6 players—Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL—are losing market share, and nobody below them claims even 2 percent. Twitter ranks fifth at 2.3 percent.
With U.S. online advertising forecast to grow 16 percent this year to $58.6 billion and reach almost $75 billion in 2017, and with Google and Facebook constantly adding services on the Web and smartphones, ad departments are looking for ways to diversify their spending.
They're testing ads on Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp and Pandora as well as services such as Pinterest and Snapchat. But none in the U.S. has emerged as a clear challenger to the Google-Facebook duopoly, a concern for brands that worry about losing visibility when the top two companies tweak an algorithm or raise prices.
Brands "don't want all their eggs in one basket," said Cathy Boyle, an analyst at eMarketer in New York. "They really do want a third player, but at this point we don't have one with the combined data and reach."
Google and Facebook are ubiquitous. Their users are scouring the web while logged in, enabling the tracking of every click and purchase and producing the kind of targeting capabilities that advertisers so covet.