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Top 100 Global Advertisers Spent A Total $339 Billion In 2021. Growth Rate Likely Far Lower For '22.


The numbers are in for the world's 100 largest advertisers: spending during 2021 increased 22.1% from COVID-impacted 2020 – during which it had declined 7.1% – to hit a record $339 billion, according to Ad Age's annual analysis. The top 200 U.S. advertisers, meanwhile, increased 2021 ad spend by 19.7%.


While that's the largest percent growth over Ad Age's 20 years of ranking advertisers based on worldwide spend, the trends for 2022-to-date look, as one might expect, significantly different. For 2022-to-date, nearly three in four companies have upped ad spend, based on data from 50 top global advertisers. Yet Ad Age estimates a year-to-date spend increase of just 7.4% for next year, a third of 2021's growth rate.


It should be noted that the estimate is based on reported figures in local currencies, meaning that percent gain would be even lower in U.S. dollars, given its strength vs. other major currencies during 2022.


“The world’s largest advertisers have pared spending growth this year—and in some cases slashed budgets—amid tensions of inflation, rising interest rates and slumping financial markets after a spending surge in 2021,” Ad Age's report says. “Rampant expectations of recession presage a rough and rocky 2023.”


For 2021 – during which, according to Ad Age, 91 of the top 100 global advertisers increased spend compared to 2020, and 71 spent more vs. pre-COVID 2019 – Amazon's 55% spend gain, to $16.9 billion, topped the rankings. Procter & Gamble, which led all advertisers in 2020, fell to fourth with an estimated worldwide spend of $11.1 billion, off 3%. P&G was radio's largest parent company advertiser for the first half of 2022 in the U.S., according to Media Monitors.


What figures Ad Age does have for 2022 so far may suggest a reversal for Amazon, given a 35% rise in sales and marketing costs during the year's first nine months, while net sales have increased just 10%. A similar trend is likely to impact internet media firms, with Google parent Alphabet's costs up 26% with revenue growth just 6% on Q3 2022, while Facebook parent Meta's reported revenue flattened for the first nine months and was down 4% in Q3. Results have been mixed for financial services firms, with, of the eight with spending figures available to Ad Age, half (including Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, American Express and Citigroup) have increased spend in the first nine months, while the other half (including Rocket, Allstate, Bank of America and Progressive) have cut spending.


Ad Age's ranking of 2021's largest global ad categories shows retail leading the pack with $66.4 billion in spending, accounting for 19.6% of the top 100 advertisers' spend. Right behind are personal care and household products ($57.5 billion, 17.0%), entertainment and media ($48.0 billion, 14.2%) and automotive ($38.2 billion, 11.3%). While the travel category ranks 12th with a 2.4% share, it was responsible for the largest spend increase from 2020, up 87.6%.

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