According to Standard Media Index, national ad spending showed a 22% gain in March 2021 compared to March of a year ago, the first month of the pandemic. The first available year-over-year comparison since the beginning of the COVID-19-related ad recession also shows digital ad spending up 27% in March vs. the same month last year, as reported by MediaPost.
Compared to a 13% decline from March 2019 to March 2020 – the first month to reflect lockdowns related to the pandemic, as well as a halt to ad spending in many categories – the 22% rise in national ad spend from last March is a sure sign of good news for the industry. Taking into account March 2019's 7% year-over-year ad spend increase, the 22% expansion suggests the ad industry is now expanding faster than its normalized base.
The report, based on Standard Media Index's core database representing 90% of U.S. national ad spending, also included some good news for the TV ad business, especially for the 2021-2022 season's network upfronts. A year-over-year 13% increase in TV ad spending suggests demand for national TV ad inventory has also rebounded, even though the gain does not yet offset March 2020's 17% decline from a year earlier. Standard Media Index has not yet released ad spending figures specific to radio.