Google tops the list of most valuable media brands with US$191.2 bn brand value

As per Brand Finance’s annual ranking report, Facebook trails behind WeChat with elite AAA+ rating and scoring 77.0 out of 100

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Apr 21, 2021 5:13 PM  | 8 min read
Brand Finance

For the first time, search engines are included in Brand Finance’s annual ranking of the world’s most valuable and strongest media brands, with Google claiming the top spot, following a 1% increase in brand value to US$191.2 billion.

Technology has become an integral part of all businesses, so Brand Finance has reclassified brands into the industries they are revolutionising. As a search engine, most of Google’s revenue is derived from advertising, leading to its inclusion as a media brand and the extension of the Brand Finance Media ranking to include 50 brands this year.

Google also owns the majority of internet advertisement infrastructure – controlling about 90% of search ads, managing the main ad exchange and server, running popular browser Chrome, and dominating smart devices with its Android operating system. Moreover, it manages widespread data centres, as well as a large portion of the cloud, which is where most of the ad dynamics occur. In addition to capitalising on ad spend, Google has since expanded into a variety of fields such as hardware, entering the smartphone industry by releasing the Pixel, its first handset.

The addition of search engine brands to the Brand Finance Media 50 2021 ranking follows expansions in previous years including streaming platforms, gaming brands, and social media as they continue to grow and carve out their own place in the media market, shifting the balance away from the networks, film studios, and publishers before them. Five further search engines feature in the extended ranking this year, with Yahoo! placing second highest after Google in 13th position with a brand value of US$9.4 billion.

Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“Significantly better at innovating than its rivals, Google changed the marketplace of search engines, spearheading the digital media revolution in a way that distinguishes the brand above all others. No better indicator of this is the fact that the name Google has become a verb - ‘I’ll Google it’ is quite arguably one of the most widely used phrases of the 21st century.”

TikTok wastes no time

A video sharing app that enjoyed a colossal boost in popularity during the pandemic, TikTok (known in China as Douyin), enters the Brand Finance Media 50 2021 ranking for the first time with a brand value of US$18.7 billion, launching into the top 10 most valuable media brands in 8th position. TikTok focuses on optimising the content you see, as opposed to other social networks that are simply built on relationships between people who know each other. The app gives preference to material that corresponds to the hottest topics, meaning consumers - to achieve more engagement - are likely to build content that aligns with those trends. This in turn encourages advertisers to join the app to promote their products.

Digital media stream on

While COVID restrictions and global lockdowns linger, social media and gaming platforms dominate among the ranking’s fastest-growing brands. Another Chinese video sharing platform Bilibili has gained more in brand value than any other brand in the Brand Finance Media 50 2021 ranking, with an impressive 106% increase to US$1.9 billion. Despite being known for its cache of video content, Bilibili draws a large portion of its sales from smartphone games, which accounted for 40% of its revenues in 2020 versus over 70% in 2018, indicating an attempt to diversify its revenue stream. In the first quarter of last year alone, Bilibili reached 172 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs), placing it in the same class as video services operated by Tencent (up 28% to US$56.4 billion).

Video game publisher Huya is the ranking’s second fastest-growing brand with an impressive 74% increase in brand value to US$1.6 billion. The brand celebrated an uptick in MAUs at the end of last year - reaching a total of 178.5 million people - as well as a boost to advertising revenues, primarily driven by its expanding and diversifying advertiser base.

Other gaming platforms that performed well this year include South Korean NCSoft (up 68% to US$2.2 billion) and Kakao (up 49% to US$1.8 billion), as well as Activision Blizzard (up 20% to US$6.3 billion) and Electronic Arts (up 14% to US$4.4 billion).

TV and film suffer in wake of pandemic

COVID-19 has exacerbated the widening gap between traditional media brands, with TV networks and film studios facing an uphill battle against online competitors. This is best exemplified by CBS being the fastest-falling brand in this year’s ranking, with a 49% decrease in brand value to US$5.9 billion, following a dramatic drop in advertising revenue and a disastrous merger with Viacom. However, CBS is not alone in its struggles, with NBC (down 44% to US$8.4 billion), 20th Television (down 25% to US$6.1 billion), and Universal (down 21% to US$11.6 billion) all seeing considerable declines in brand value as film and television production was halted.

Comparatively, Netflix enjoyed a spike in usage, causing its brand value to increase by 9% to US$24.9 billion. Netflix has been a pioneering force in changing consumers’ viewing habits, taking over traditional television by providing a more appealing, flexible option in line with the modern fast-paced lifestyle. With 37 million new users by the end of 2020, Netflix’s success has driven improved revenue forecasts and brand equity scores. Despite this, the streaming platform’s growth was not as substantial as in previous years due to challenges posed by competitors such as Disney (down 9% to US$51.2 billion) and HBO (down 3% to US$4.0 billion), which recently started offering streaming services in a bid to remain competitive.

Riding the airwaves of media revolution to offer more personalised, online consumer experiences, Spotify enjoyed an impressive 39% boost in brand value to US$5.6 billion. The music streaming platform has seen a significant increase in new users over the past year after expanding operations into 13 new markets. Spotify is now primed for further success as it continues to develop its capabilities, signing exclusive podcast contracts with Archie Comics and Joe Rogan, and acquiring Megaphone from Graham Holdings to improve its own podcast technology.

Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance, commented:

Podcasts are one of the primary motivators for listeners to upgrade to paid subscriptions on music streaming platforms, with the global podcast industry expected to grow by nearly 30% over the next five years. With these forecasts, and rivals already showing market intent, Spotify's reign as the leading music streaming brand will be difficult to maintain.”

WeChat sector’s & world’s strongest

Apart from calculating brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. According to these criteria, WeChat is the world’s strongest media brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 95.4 out of 100. One of the world's most popular social media apps, WeChat is also the strongest brand globally, according to the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 report, and one of only two brands in the media ranking to have been awarded the elite AAA+ brand strength rating, the other being Disney with a BSI score of 89.7 out of 100.

Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value, and as WeChat’s brand strength grew, its brand value also enjoyed a rapid boost, increasing by 25% to US$67.9 billion. One of China’s home-grown tech successes with very strong equity, WeChat enjoyed high scores in reputation and consideration among Chinese consumers – according to Brand Finance’s original market research – successfully implementing a broad and all-encompassing proposition that offers services from messaging and banking, to taxi services and online shopping, becoming essential to many users’ daily lives.

Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance, commented:

“A beacon of innovation, WeChat has shown the value of constantly striving for technical development, particularly in the face of adversity. Though the company has done exceptionally well this year, lower levels of enthusiasm among younger adults in China may be a warning flag. It will be essential for WeChat to keep up its momentum to achieve similar successes in the year ahead.”

In stark contrast, social networking site Facebook trails behind WeChat by almost 20 BSI points, scoring 77.0 out of 100. With 2.8 billion active monthly users, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform in the world. Despite recording a marginal increase in brand value and placing second overall in this year’s ranking, Facebook has battled widespread scrutiny over privacy issues and suffered significant reputational damage in the wake of several political and social scandals, ultimately damaging its brand strength.

With an even lower BSI score of 72.5 out of 100, Twitter’s brand strength is similarly dented by issues with consumer trust and reputation. In the past year, the platform faced intense scrutiny over its handling of Donald Trump’s account, sparking raucous debate surrounding freedom of speech and accusations against the former US President for allegedly using the platform to incite violence and spread fake news.

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Meta and MeitY team up for digital safety campaign

Meta has also launched #DigitalSuraksha on Safer Internet Day, with several new initiatives for online safety

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 4:35 PM   |   5 min read


Meta today announced its partnership with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for the G20 Stay Safe Online Campaign. As part of the partnership with MeitY, Meta will create and share helpful resources in multiple Indian languages through various channels, to spread awareness on how to stay safe online.

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The resources under the G20 Stay Safe Online will cover themes such as tackling online frauds, how to report harmful content, tips to keep yourself safe when interacting online and more. India is at the cusp of becoming a $ trillion digital economy and at the time when India is holding the G20 presidency, this strategic partnership will not only support and equip the existing Internet users but will also be beneficial for the rapidly increasing new Internet users in India.

Speaking on the partnership, Akash Tripathi, CEO, MyGov said, “Under PM Modi’s vision of India’s Techade, we are witnessing rapid digital adoption and with this growth, there is a need to create easy to access tools and resources to protect users from increasing cyber crimes. We, at MeitY, have designed a Stay Safe online campaign in this year of India's G20 Presidency and we are glad that tech companies like Meta are taking a lead in supporting the government’s vision of building an inclusive digital space which is free of severe online threats.”

On Safer Internet Day, Meta has also launched #DigitalSuraksha campaign builds on the company's efforts to offer a safer and inclusive internet to everyone.  The first phase of #DigitalSuraksha includes a partnership with Delhi Police to provide digital literacy to users in Delhi. The current phase of #DigitalSuraksha also includes a slew of measures on enabling digital education and literacy across youth well-being, child safety, tackling misinformation as well as the overall education of users towards various safety tools and resources available across Meta platforms.

Natasha Jog, Head, Public Policy, Instagram and Policy Programs, Facebook India (Meta), said, “The G20 Presidency opens up a great opportunity for India to design and create an ever-inclusive Internet model for the world, and we are excited to partner with the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology in this endeavor. Creating a $1 trillion digital economy requires an ecosystem that is safe and empowering and we will support the government’s campaign by providing users with education, tools and resources to protect themselves in this rapidly evolving digital world.”

Providing Digital Literacy

Law enforcement agencies are a critical partner in ensuring online safety, under its #DigitalSuraksha campaign Meta will work with the Delhi Police on a 2-month long programme to provide digital literacy to 10,000 students across various schools and colleges in Delhi. Further, Meta and Delhi Police will jointly build resources to educate users about protecting themselves against online/ digital scams. As part of this partnership, Meta will also train Delhi police personnel on Meta’s various safety tools.

The #DigitalSuraksha campaign finds expression through a Digital Nagrik Pledge, which was also launched by Meta today, encouraging people across India to become responsible digital citizens (Nagriks). Built on Meta’s partnership with CBSE to provide Digital Citizenship course to 10 million students and 1 lac teachers, Digital Nagrik Pledge will further support the Indian Government’s objective to ensure an open, safe, trusted and accountable internet. The goal of the program will be to get 1 million people to pledge and to become safe digital citizens over the next one year.

Building Consumer Awareness

Underscoring the critical importance of educating users, Meta has also unpacked a series of consumer awareness initiatives on the tools and resources available for people to stay safe.

Building on the partnership with Delhi Police, for a period of one month, Meta will wrap one train on Delhi Metro’s Yellow line to educate users about safety tools available for them on Meta’s platforms.  Commuters will be redirected to Meta’s safety tools through a QR code.

A new ‘Help protect children. Don’t Share. Don’t Comment. Report.’ campaign was also launched, to prevent the sharing of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and encouraging people to report such content instead. The campaign will educate users on the harm of sharing CSAM, and the impact it has on the victim and will encourage anyone who sees harmful videos and images of children to protect the victim by reporting it immediately to Facebook. The new campaign builds on the ‘Report it, don’t share it,’ campaign launched by Meta last year.

This year’s theme for Safer Internet Day underlines a crucial aspect of supporting young children by having conversations on life in the online world. With an aim to support and encourage meaningful conversations between parents and children around critical topics like use of social media, mental health and digital wellbeing, Meta has launched UnGap. A series of six episodes, UnGap is a chat show featuring pairings of well-known parents and children that includes actor Sheeba Chaddha and daughter Noor, actor Ahsaas Channa and mother Kulbir Badesron, comedian Abhishek Kumar and father Sundar Baalaji  and entrepreneur Roshan Abbas and daughter Ayatal Abbas, among others.

Additionally, an awareness campaign on ‘tips for tackling misinformation’ was also launched with Yuvaa, through short videos. Available in Hinglish, 15-second campaign videos will feature six simple tips and tricks on tackling and identifying misinformation.

Meta will continue to add more initiatives to the #DigitalSuraksha campaign over the year. These will be geared towards reaching a larger set of users by educating them, creating more awareness and advancing India’s agenda of digital inclusion and growth.

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Nicobar awards digital media mandate to First Economy

The digital marketing agency will undertake the brand's media strategy and overall media buying across all the digital platforms

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 3:48 PM   |   1 min read


Lifestyle brand Nicobar has awarded its digital media mandate to First Economy. The digital marketing agency will be responsible for the brand's media strategy and overall media buying across all the digital platforms. 

To reach the masses, the brand specifically wants to promote its collection and uphold its position in the market through performance-driven marketing. 

"During the inception of Nicobar, we always had a brand in mind that stays unique in this world of over-flowing repetitiveness. Nicobar, with its distinctive products, has always made its consumers happy and satisfied. To help the business grow, we wanted someone who had a great reputation for handling performance marketing. First Economy stood up to all our expectations." said Raul Rai, Co-founder, of Nicobar. 

First Economy has served many prestigious clients and delivered promising numbers to them by upscaling their growth charts. "Performance marketing has always been our strongest point and we have proved ourselves time and again. With this alliance, we wish to add value to the brand’s journey ahead and look forward to bringing a change in the lifestyle industry, " said Jigar Zatakia, Founder, of First Economy Pvt. Ltd. on acquiring Nicobar’s performance media mandate.

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Pocket Aces lays off 20% staffers

Co-Founder & CEO Aditi Srivastava has said via a social media post that the company is taking steps to keep the operating model resilient

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 10:01 AM   |   1 min read

Pocket Aces

Pocket Aces has said that it will be laying off nearly 20% of its total workforce.

The pink slips are being given to staffers from the content and production teams, as per reports.

Aditi Srivastava, Co-Founder and CEO of Pocket Aces said in a LinkedIn post that the company has to take “difficult but necessary steps to keep operating model agile and resilient.”

The company runs digital channels like Filter Copy and Dice Media. It recently raised funding from Sequoia India, DSP Group, and 3one4 Capital.

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Centre forms panel to mull if competition law needed for digital companies

A parliamentary panel has earlier recommended that there is a need to act against anti-competitive behaviour in the digital market

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 7, 2023 9:04 AM   |   1 min read


The Centre has formed a special committee to consider if there is a need for a separate competition law pertaining to digital companies, media networks have reported.

This comes after a parliamentary panel recommended the need to act against anti-competitive behaviour in the digital market.

It has also been suggested that a law be put in place to ensure a fair and transparent system.

Towards the end of last year, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Anurag Singh Thakur informed the Rajya Sabha that over 2,800 digital news publishers have furnished information under the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code of the Information Technology Act, 2000 rules. These rules provide a code of ethics for digital media publishers.

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Google Bard, direct competitor to ChatGPT, announces soft launch

Bard, which is based on Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), was test released earlier than expected in direct response to ChatGPT

By Shantanu David | Feb 7, 2023 7:26 AM   |   3 min read

google bard

The AI arena continues to heat up with Google announcing the imminent launch of Bard, its director competitor to Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, which has recently taken the world by storm.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the soft launch of the AI to "trusted testers" in a blog post on Monday, Feb 6, US Time.

Pichai wrote, "Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language models. It draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses. Bard can be an outlet for creativity, and a launchpad for curiosity, helping you to explain new discoveries from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to a 9-year-old, or learn more about the best strikers in football right now, and then get drills to build your skills."

Bard, which is based on Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA), was test released earlier than expected in direct response to ChatGPT, developed on Open AI, which has been heavily backed by Microsoft (the tech giant recently announced a further  USD 10 billion investment in the technology and said it will be introducing it to a suite of its products including but not limited to MS Office, Bing among others).

ChatGPT has been making headlines, and indeed writing the news, with the conversational AI having been used to do everything from writing code and composing music to writing college essays and news articles to even passing business and law school exams, all at the prompting of a few words.

This is a huge potential risk to Google Search, the foundational product of the tech titan and a major contributor to its revenue through the advertising and preferential placement of products on its search pages.

As Pichai wrote, "One of the most exciting opportunities is how AI can deepen our understanding of information and turn it into useful knowledge more efficiently — making it easier for people to get to the heart of what they’re looking for and get things done. When people think of Google, they often think of turning to us for quick factual answers, like “how many keys does a piano have?” But increasingly, people are turning to Google for deeper insights and understanding — like, “is the piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each need?” Learning about a topic like this can take a lot of effort to figure out what you really need to know, and people often want to explore a diverse range of opinions or perspectives."

While tech enthusiasts have celebrated its achievements, several academicians and researchers have urged caution, with several universities even changing the format of their entrance processes so students can't use the AI to write their college application essays. And while this article hasn't been written by an AI (yet), watch this space for more.

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Will Google announce ChatGPT's rival on Wednesday?

The company has sent out a YouTube invite, indicating plans to strengthen Search and Map, possibly by incorporating the AI chatbot

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 1:09 PM   |   2 min read


Google is expected to announce its chatbot technology as early as on Wednesday as it responds to the success of ChatGPT, a Microsoft-backed AI chatbot that has caught global attention over the last three months.

The tech giant has scheduled a 40-minute event for Wednesday 8 February (7 PM IST), where it is expected to reveal its plans about incorporating its own AI chatbot (LaMDA) in Search, Maps and other products to make them interactive.

“We're reimagining how people search for, explore and interact with information, making it more natural and intuitive than ever before to find what you need. Join us to learn how we're opening up greater access to information for people everywhere, through Search, Maps and beyond,” reads the description of Google's YouTube invite for “AI-Event”.

Giving a hint in this regard, Sundar Pichai, the Chief Executive of Google’s owner, Alphabet, said last week during earning calls that the use of AI had reached an “inflection point” and the company was “extremely well positioned” in the field. He also spoke about making these language models available in the “coming weeks and months” so that people could engage directly with them.

The Google spokespersons are silent about it though, perhaps to create more suspense around the launch.

LaMDA shot to prominence last year when Google suspended and then dismissed an engineer after he went public with claims that LaMDA was “sentient”.

Large language models such as LaMDA and the one behind ChatGPT are types of neural network, which mimic the underlying architecture of the brain in computer form, and are fed vast amounts of text in order to be taught how to generate plausible sentences. ChatGPT has become a sensation after being used to create all sorts of content from school essays to job applications.

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Public support is much appreciated, tweets Musk

The CEO has posted about the last months being tough due to the struggle to keep Twitter from going bankrupt

By exchange4media Staff | Feb 6, 2023 12:43 PM   |   1 min read


Elon Musk has spoken of the last three months being "extremely tough". On his official Twitter handle, he said that it was difficult saving Twitter from going bankrupt while handling Tesla and SpaceX.

Musk even asked for support from the public, saying that he wouldn't "wish that pain on anyone".

Musk has been taking several measures to appease advertisers after many of them have walked out of the platform.

Late last week, he announced that Twitter would be sharing revenue for ads appearing in reply threads. This is, however, for creators who are Twitter Blue subscribers.



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