The just-released annual ranking of the world's 25 largest advertisers from Ad Age Datacenter includes at least nine putting a lot of their chips on radio, including the two top-ranked spenders, Procter & Gamble Co. and Amazon. With a combined expenditure of $22.4 billion, those two account for one-sixth of the top 25's total $141.3 billion spend, based on 2020 total worldwide advertising expenditure, while taken together, nine key radio advertisers' share of that total is 38%, or $53.1 billion.
For P&G, this marks a return to the top of Ad Age Datacenter's ranking, with an estimated 7.3% worldwide marketing spend increase to $11.5 billion in the fiscal year ended June 2021, powered by a COVID-related sales jump for its paper and cleaning products. Since Ad Age began its global rankings in 1987, the consumer goods company has finished first in all but two years, including 2019 when it finished behind Amazon.
With global ad and promotional costs off by around 1% in 2020, Amazon places second with a $10.9 billion spend. The e-commerce company attributes the decrease to unprecedented demand for online shopping from homebound consumers, citing "lower spending [in 2020] on marketing channels as a result of COVID-19," according to its annual regulatory filing. With Amazon still boasting the top spend of all advertisers in the U.S., while Alibaba and Rakuten lead in China and Japan respectively, it's the first time e-commerce companies are top-ranked in each of the world's three largest ad markets, according to Ad Age Datacenter.
Other major radio advertisers in the top 25 include Comcast, ranked eighth with $6.7 billion, AT&T 11th at $5.3 billion, Disney 12th with $4.7 billion, Toyota 16th at $4.0 billion, McDonald's 18th with $3.7 billion, Walmart 22nd at $3.2 billion and Verizon 24th at $3.1 billion.
Rounding out Ad Age Datacenter's top five are L'Oréal ($9.9 billion), Samsung ($8.6 billion) and Alibaba ($8.4 billion). The latter company shows the largest increase in ad spend compared to 2019, up 90%, while China's Tencent Holdings' spend was up 62%. Those growth trends are in stark contrast to the general trend amid the 2020 pandemic, as 70 of Ad Age Datacenter's top 100 advertisers cut spending for an overall 7.1% decline to $278 billion. The biggest ad spend cuts came, not surprisingly, from internet travel sites Expedia (down 66%) and Booking Holdings (down 56%). Among listed radio advertisers having bucked the trend and increasing spend were prescription drug maker AbbVie (up 21%) and Progressive (up 18%), while Coca-Cola, Capital One and General Motors's total spends were off 35%, 29%, and 27% respectively.
Ad Age Datacenter's rankings are based on total worldwide advertising spending, encompassing advertising, marketing services (including promotion and direct marketing) and digital marketing (including social media). Figures are based on calendar 2020 results, or for companies on fiscal years, the most recent fiscal year ended on or before June 30, 2021.