Worldwide Digital Ad Spending Year-End Update

Executive Summary

By the time 2021 concludes, worldwide ad spending will have grown faster than at any other point since we began tracking it 10 years ago. Digital ad spending in particular will chalk up historic increases. Next year, however, spending growth will settle back into more familiar territory.

What’s changed from our initial worldwide digital ad forecast for 2021?

We predicted a strong rebound for ad spending this year, but the actual rebound will be far stronger than we anticipated. Total ad spending will increase by 19.9% instead of 15.0%, equating to nearly $33 billion more in new worldwide spending than we originally forecast. Most of that additional new money will come from digital, which will increase by 29.1% rather than the 20.4% we originally predicted. Worldwide digital ad spending will reach $491.70 billion this year and zoom past half a trillion next year.

What stands out among countries and regions?

Many advanced economies, led by the US, grew ad spending more rapidly than we thought they would. Emerging markets also produced standout growth figures, but countries like the UK, US, and France will top the digital growth chart—despite their already high bases—and nudge high-performing emerging markets like India and Indonesia a little further down the ranking. Concurrently, North America will grow its digital spend by 37.5% and Europe by 27.4%, exceeding the growth in Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

What are the biggest stories among the major industry players?

Amazon stole the digital advertising headlines in the US, but Google’s worldwide performance will be one for the ages. Google will capture 38.1% of all the global growth in digital ad spending this year, finishing up with $146.12 billion in ad revenues and putting it further ahead of Facebook than at any time since 2016. All three of the American triopoly will exceed our forecasts from earlier this year, and Amazon will nearly lead the world in total ad revenue growth, at 61.4%.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report updates our 2021 forecast for worldwide ad spending, digital ad spending, display ad spending, and search ad spending, while also previewing 2022. It also updates our country-level and company breakdowns for digital ad spending and revenues.