eMarketer: 2021 Ends With Record Growth In Worldwide Ad Spend.


Total worldwide ad spending will set a record for growth this year, as will traditional and digital ad spending. All segments posted their highest rates of increase since eMarketer began tracking the categories internationally in 2011.


The pandemic resulted in worldwide ad spending to decline 1.2% in 2020, the first contraction recorded by eMarketer. However, 2021’s rebound will push total spending to exceed 2019’s pre-pandemic figure by more than $120 billion by the end of the year.


“We foresaw a huge rebound in our 2021 forecast earlier this year, but digital spending is on track to far exceed our expectations, and this will pull up the overall numbers substantially,” the research firm says.


eMarketer says traditional ad spending will also end up with unusually strong growth. That is “in line with our initial forecast—thanks to the low base effects caused by 2020’s extreme, pandemic-driven pullbacks in TV, out-of-home (OOH), and newspaper advertising,” eMarketer says.


According to its findings, eMarketer says much of 2021’s growth spurt was due to unusual circumstances and the advertising industry is unlikely to see a similar year again. “As of Q4 2021, there are already signs that the digital ad boom is losing steam, and we expect significant deceleration in spending growth in the coming years,” Senior Forecasting Writer Ethan Cramer-Flood said.


Some of the record highlights of 2021 include: Total worldwide ad spending is set to increase 19.9% this year, reaching $780.59 billion. Previously, eMarketer forecasted 15.0% growth. That equates to $32.92 billion more in spending than initially anticipated; Worldwide digital ad spending will surge by 29.1% this year, eMarketer says. Digital ad buyers will spend $491.70 billion this year, far more than the $455.30 billion they projected back in Q1; Display and search ad spend also showed a strong rebound in 2021. Display has been outperforming search for many years, but in 2021 they two will end up with nearly equal growth from 2021’s digital boom, 30.8% and 29.3%, respectively.

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