Covid erased $63bn in global adspend, and 2021 will only give back 59% of that


Covid-19 made $63bn (£47bn) in spending disappear from the global advertising market in 2020, and a 6.7% forecasted improvement in 2021 will only recoup 59% of those losses, according to a new report from Warc.

Warc’s Global Advertising Trends: State of The Industry 2020/21 report said that global spend will fall by 10.2% ($63.4bn) to total $557.3bn in 2020. This is a downgrade of 2.1 percentage points from Warc’s previous global forecast of an 8.1% drop, made in May.

With the 6.7% growth forecast in 2021, the industry would need to grow another 4.4% in 2022 to get back to 2019’s peak of $620.6 bn in spend, Warc reported.

If the $4.9bn of advertising spend on the US elections were removed, the global ad market would record an 11% decline ($68bn) this year. Warc also pointed out that in absolute terms, this year’s decline is worse than the last recession in 2009, when the ad market contracted by $61.3bn (12.9%).

Forecast by region
Region 2020 2021
Africa -23.3% to $5bn 2.1%
Asia-Pacific -9.7% to $174.4bn 8.5%
Europe -14.5% to $127bn 10.2%
Latin America -32.3% to $18.6bn Flat
Middle East -20.2% to $11.3bn 7.0%
North America -4.3% to $221bn 3.5%

Worst year ever for traditional media

Traditional media accounts for nearly all of the decline in 2020, with global spend down by a fifth (-19.7%, $62.4bn) to a total of $253.9bn. Linear TV spending fell 16.1% ($29.9bn). 

The online advertising market—54.4% of the year’s total—is flat (-0.3%) at $303.3bn. This was the first non-growth year since the dot-com crash in 2000. 

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Cinema and out-of-home, two hard-hit forms of media in 2020, will be the fastest-growing formats in 2021, with cinema rising 41.2% and OOH 20.2%, Warc said.

Social-media formats were the strongest performers in 2020, recording total growth of 9.3% to $98.3bn. The category will rise another 12.2% in 2021 to reach $110.3bn, equal to almost a fifth (18.6%) of all advertising spend.

Online video is on course to rise 7.9% to $52.7bn in 2020 and will grow by 12.8% in 2021. Paid search, which will decline slightly this year, will rebound with growth of 7.0% in 2021 to reach $130.6bn—just over a fifth (22.0%) of all adspend.

Travel and automotive lead sector losses

Adspend within the automotive sector is down by a fifth (21.2%), or $11bn, to $41bn this year, meaning the sector is responsible for almost one in five (17.4%) lost dollars. Spending in retail fell 16.2% to $54.3bn. The travel and tourism sector saw adspend drop 33.8% ($8.4bn) to $16.4bn).

A version of this story was first published by Campaign Asia-Pacific



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