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The Digital Advertising Duopoly – What Now?

Monopoly - [muh-nop-uh-lee] - exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices

If you don’t immediately jump to the super popular board game when you think of monopoly, then you likely think about big, evil corporations. Monopolies are bad for consumers, allegedly, as companies have the ability to operate relatively unchecked due to the lack of competition.

But what is a duopoly?

Duopoly - [doo-op-uh-lee] - a situation in which two suppliers dominate the market for a commodity or service

While monopolies were certainly covered in your economics and history classes growing up, it’s significantly less likely you covered duopolies. However, you and your company’s online life, whether you realize it or not, is dominated by a duopoly.

Google and Facebook.

Here’s’s look at Net Digital Ad Revenues by Company 2016 – 2019:

And voila! Two companies account for 63% of all the digital advertising dollars spent in 2017! And after those two, the next largest player, Microsoft, only accounts for 4%. (And to make matters even more serious, the duopoly is forecasted to grow to 68% of the market by 2019!)

Hopefully I have achieved the first goal of this article, which is simply to make you aware of what is a world where two companies have a disproportionately large effect on the way the world works. Now, allow me to lend a few thoughts to what you should do about it.

1. Drown Out The Noise

Online advertising can be a very complicated world to keep track of. Many, many executives find themselves opting out of staying up to date because there’s just too much going on. This, as you can imagine, is a devastating choice to make in the long-run. The presence of the duopoly means that if you want to keep track of over 60% of the digital ad world, you simply need to track two companies. That’s it. I promise that if you keep track of Facebook and Google, you’ll never find yourself lost again.

2. Become An Expert

Thinking about how to improve your digital advertising skills in 2018? Become an expert on Google and/or Facebook ad products. Each of the companies has a very extensive advertising ecosystem so understanding them won’t be a one-day task. Many professional challenges present an opportunity to focus on either breadth or depth. The duopoly means that breadth has little to no application for the majority of executives. Get deep on Google and Facebook.

3. Look Other Places For Innovation Not Scale

So what does that mean about the other gagillion digital ad platforms out there. Are they just chopped liver? No. But as you think about their role in your advertising strategies, don’t think of them as building blocks. Google and Facebook are going to be the foundation of just abut every company’s digital efforts. The other platforms are a testing ground. Spend some money there to see if certain things work at a small scale. (The big guys copy all the little guys over time anyway…) Snapchat, Reddit, LinkedIn, etc. have awesome products that can be great compliments to your core.

Eli Robinson is the COO of Metric Collective, the parent company of FranchiseHelp. He misses Alta Vista and MySpace.

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