The Battle for Third Place in Digital Advertising

The battle for market share in the digital ad market seems to be a battle for third place, as no firm yet seems to have the ability to dislodge Google and Facebook from their present positions.

Ad buyers understandably worry about the “duopoly” of Google and Facebook in digital advertising. But many other would-be competitors worry about whether there is a shot at taking the clear “number three” spot in the market.

And that includes Verizon and AT&T, which must contend with Amazon, Twitter, Microsoft and others in the battle to secure a stable "number three" position. "Winning," in the sense of challenging Google or Facebook for the number one or number two spot, seems unlikely.

It would be a rare market indeed if the number-three supplier had anything close to market share parity with either the market leader or the number-two market share holder. And once the basic pattern gets set, it is nearly impossible to change.

Google, for example, has about 41 percent of the digital ad market. Facebook has about 17 percent, according to Visual Capitalist. And that is about what the classic rule of market share would predict.

The classic pattern is a market share structure that follows a 6:3:1 (or 5:3:1) pattern , where the leader has twice the share of number two, which has twice the share of number three. In many markets there also is a long tail of other providers who have small shares.


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