Asia Pacific (APAC) is set to make history this year by overtaking North America as the world’s biggest digital advertising market, according to Strategy Analytics.

The research and consulting firm has found that investment in digital ad space across APAC in 2016 will rise 18.2% year on year to a total of $59.6 billion, while funds in North America will increase 9.6% to $59.5 billion.

The new readings show business for the former being fueled by a huge lift in spend within China. Recognised as the world’s second largest investor in the digital ad space, budgets in the region have been tipped to grow 25.1% year on year to $22.4 billion.

The US is currently the world’s top spender, with $55.6 billion invested in digital advertising. Combined with China, it makes up 44% of global digital ad investment in 2016.  

Growing funds

Japan and Korea are down respectively as the fourth and sixth biggest digital ad markets, and further contribute to the growth in APAC.

Three of the six biggest digital ad markets are now positioned in the region and new research suggests that by 2021, spend will be 33% higher than in North America.

There are strong reasons for why APAC is booming, as explained by Michael Goodman, digital media director at Strategy Analytics.

“Advertising is about ‘eyeballs’ and the sheer scale of the Chinese market, along with India and Indonesia, is why Asia-Pacific will overtake North America this year, despite underlying economic weakness in some economies.”

At the same time, however, the study has revealed that North America is still way ahead of APAC in terms of ad spend per capita; investing $165 per person, followed by Western Europe ($95), while the huge population of Asia Pacific means that spend per person is lower ($15).

According to Goodman, this only opens up more opportunities for growth within the region.

“Asia Pacific’s relatively low ad spend per capita shows the tremendous potential for growth compared to the more saturated markets in the West, particularly with mobile phones removing a barrier to internet access in less developed markets,” he said, adding that this will hugely increase the online population and ad spend.

Digital advertising is growing strong and the global spend in the space will rise by 12.6% on last year to $176.7 billion, according to Strategy Analytics, accounting for 32% of total investment in advertising.

The study has also revealed that within this category, search will account for 54%, display 36% and classifieds 11%.