The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Both Alphabet and Facebook have carefully worked at crafting their public images.
Most people see these companies as forward-looking tech companies that are shaping our future through high-flying initiatives like Google X or Oculus VR. They put money into big moonshots that could potentially change the world, and their actions are closely followed by people in and outside of the technology sector.
But, despite these other initiatives and some diligent messaging, make no mistake – both Alphabet and Facebook are media companies that get their money from one source.
Advertising makes up the vast majority of their business, and they’ve both become very good at it.
True Ad Dominance
Earlier this year, we put together a chart that broke down the revenues of the large tech companies:
Facebook earns 97% of its revenue from ads. Meanwhile, Alphabet earns 88% from ads, while getting less than 1% of its revenue from moonshots (at least for now).
Alphabet and Facebook are so good at advertising, in fact, that traditional media can’t keep up – and as a result, companies like CBS, 21st Century Fox, and iHeartMedia are now fighting for scraps.
Three is a Crowd
It’s not just Alphabet and Facebook that have unlocked the secret to ad dominance. They were just the fastest to do so.
China’s search engine giant, Baidu, is quickly climbing the ranks as well. Even though growth slowed in 2016 due to changes in China’s ad rules, the company will eventually be the third-largest media giant in the world. If Baidu can bump ad revenues by another 20%, it’ll move past Comcast, which owns brands like NBCUniversal and Telemundo.
Microsoft is also making its presence felt, debuting in the Top 10 for the first time in 2016. Microsoft’s Bing search network is now in 36 countries, while making up 33% of the U.S. PC search market. On top of that, the company also acquired LinkedIn, which now contributes $1 billion in revenue to the coffers.
The sea change is still in process – but in a couple years, there may not be a single traditional media that makes the top five list for global ad revenues. The tech takeover continues.
Article by Jeff Desjardins, Visual Capitalist