Expenditure on advertising in the Asia-Pacific region last year dipped 4.3%, pulled back by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on business. A rebound is underway, at differing speeds across the vast area, but will see digital formats increase their preponderance at the expense of TV.

According to a new study by consultancy Media Partners Asia, the ad market in Asia slipped in value to $188 billion. Television, the biggest loser, was down 15% to $43.3 billion.

In mature markets such as Australia and Japan, dips in TV ad spend are expected to be permanent, with a return to pre-pandemic spend unlikely. “The medium remains important in key markets where it retains its position as the largest ad segment as of end-2020, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Overall, TV advertising is expected to rebound in 2021, growing 4.6% year-on-year, before secular decline sets in again in 2023,” Media Partners Asia said in “Asia Pacific Advertising Trends 2021.”

The expected rebound in ad industry expenditure is being led by China, which has seen a sharp economic recovery since mid-2020 and is forecast to account for 56% of Asia-Pacific advertising in the current year. Media Partners Asia predicts that the overall ad market will exceed $200 billion by the end of 2021. Ad markets in Korea and Vietnam will also return to pre-pandemic net ad spend levels by end-2021. Most other countries will follow in 2022, bolstered by the growth of digital advertising.

Digital advertising proved itself most resilient to soft advertiser demand in 2020, and achieved growth in most markets. Media Partners Asia forecasts that digital will grow to contribute 67% of APAC ad revenue in 2025, cutting TV’s share down to just 18%.

TV companies are not being completely left behind. TV broadcasters are growing online video ad market share through catch up and dedicated AVOD streaming services, particularly in connected TV markets such as Australia, Japan and Korea.

Media Partners Asia estimates online video advertising, led by YouTube, contributed 16% to Asia Pacific digital ad revenue in 2020. With various local and regional AVOD and freemium platforms, including broadcaster-led platforms driving growth, online video advertising is forecast to grow to US$33.3 billion in 2025, representing 20% of the APAC digital ad pie and 40% in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia.

On a per-country analysis, the consultancy says that digital advertising, accounting for 70% of China’s total ad spend, grew a robust 8% year-on-year, driven by trends in short video, livestreaming, social, and e-commerce platforms.

India saw advertising crumble in 2020 – Media Partners Asia calculates a 27% drop last year – but may rebound strongly over the period to 2025. The consultancy forecasts an annualized 13% growth, driven by India’s increasing embrace of digital, which is focused on online gaming, education-tech, food and delivery platforms. Media Partners Asia predicts 2024 as the year in which digital will overtake television to become the largest advertising segment in India.