Social and video ad spend grew while traditional formats saw worst year on record due to COVID-19

Anne Freer | December 1, 2020

Mobile Advertising

Global ad spend is projected to drop over 10% in 2020 to $557 billion, according to WARC’s latest report.

While formats such as mobile and video have performed strong despite the impact of COVID-19, more traditional formats have seen their worst year ever.

Ad spend is predicted to grow 6.7% overall in 2021. And while that’s good news, it only offsets some 59% of 2020 losses.

Linear TV formats were down 16.1% to $155.6 billion despite the presidential campaign and more people staying at home to watch TV.

Out of home and newspaper and magazine ad spend was down more than 25% each.

However, social media jumped 9.3% to $98.3 billion and WARC expects it to rise 12.2% in 2021. This would mean social could represent almost 19% of all ad spend next year.

Online video (with mobile as one of the dominant platforms) continues to grow rapidly at +7.9% to $52.7 billion. It is expected to grow by 12.8% in 2021.

But paid search was down slightly at 1.9%. It could recover to a growth of 7% next year.

“2020 was the most hostile year for the advertising economy ever seen in our 40 years of market monitoring,” says James McDonald, Head of Data Content, WARC, and author of the research. “Some platforms – such as e-commerce and social properties – have emerged relatively unscathed, but the vast majority of the media landscape has witnessed a severe material impact.”

The sectors pulling the plug on spending include automative and tourism and travel industries. They spent less in 2020 compared to other industries.

Overall, ad spend was down 4.3% in North America to $221 billion, but the country is predicted to recoup 89% of losses next year.

Europe was down a whopping 14.5% and will grow 10.2% in 2021 to recover 60%.

LATAM was down 32.3% while APAC saw ad spend decline 9.7% to $174.4 billion.

“An immediate bounce back is not on the horizon,” added McDonald. “Rising unemployment is set to depress consumption demand well into next year, and though the prospect of a vaccination programme offers cause for optimism among consumers and businesses, it may only be a waypoint in a recovery that stretches years.”

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