Overall ad spend is forecast to increase by double-digits year-over-year in October, November and December 2021, furthering the gains made by the ad industry at the end of last year as it recovered from the pandemic-triggered downturn in spring 2020. A new forecast by Standard Media Index – which pools planning and invoicing records from major ad agency holding companies and major independents – is based on “forward booking” commitments that agencies make with media publishers in advance.
The analysis in SMI’s Pacing Report sees TV making modest gains over Q4 2020 with growth particularly in the local TV market. Radio appears to gain strength late in the season, compared to last year, and outdoor is forecast to have greater than 50% growth. Digital media, meanwhile, including video, audio, programmatic, search and social, is on track to grow on the order of 20-50% respectively by channel.
The new SMI fourth quarter report drills down into the toy & games category, which spends 60% of its annual ad budget in the last three months of the year. Historically, the category allocated 75% of its media mix for cartoons shown on television. That includes branded TV shows like “Transformers.” From 1990-2010 SMI says this ad spend saw a media mix shift from broadcast network and nationally syndicated cartoons to cable kids’ TV networks. However, with digital-first Millennials now the parents of most children, linear video is no longer as dominant with this age cohort. Spend is shifting in the fourth quarter away from TV. While cable TV networks had peaked at 65% or more of the media mix roughly a decade ago, according to SMI between 2017 and 2019, cable kids’ networks accounted for just 40% of toys & games ad spend. In 2020, that dropped to 31%. Digital, across all platforms and publisher types, hit 47% of the media mix last year, an eight percentage-point jump from the average of 2017-19.