How Total Media Ad Spend Will Shake Out Around the World

Total media ad spending worldwide will decline by 4.5% this year to reach $614.03 billion. While this is slightly up from our June 2020 forecast of -4.9% growth, it’s a sharp contrast to our pre-pandemic estimate of 7.0%.

We expect total media ad spending worldwide to rebound to pre-pandemic levels next year and hit $691.50 billion. Driving this rebound will be strong growth in digital ad spending globally, at 16.4% in 2021, more than double the 7.9% growth that traditional media spending will see next year.

All 37 ad markets we track—with the exception of China—will post negative growth in total media ad spending this year. China will be the outlier and manage to eke out a small but notable positive growth of 0.3%.

We’ve revised growth downward for 27 markets in 2020 because their performance in Q2 was worse than expected, and because the surge in COVID-19 cases in recent months has prompted some countries, like France, Spain, and the UK, to consider reinstituting lockdown orders.

Who Will Do Better than Expected?

The most notable upward revision in our forecasts is for the US. We now expect total media ad spend in the US to decline by 4.1% this year, up from our June 2020 forecast of -6.8%. This upward revision is due in part to better-than-expected performance in Q2, when ecommerce advertising made up for the losses seen in travel-related search advertising. In terms of media ad spending growth, the US will rank eighth this year among the markets we cover, up from 24th place in our previous forecast. As for digital ad spending, the US will come in second with 7.5% growth, up from our previous forecast of 19th place with 1.7% growth.

The top 10 digital ad markets by size have not changed much from our June 2020 forecast, however, with the US leading the pack at $232.30 billion, followed by China at $105.12 billion.

Who Will Be Hit the Hardest?

Spain will be the worst-performing ad market with -14.0% growth, down from our June 2020 forecast of -8.2%. This drop moves Spain from 30th to last place among the markets we track.

India’s control of the coronavirus does not seem to have improved over the course of Q3, and we now expect India’s total media ad spending growth to come in third-to-last place at -12.9%. Also among the worst performers this year will be the Latin American markets of Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Peru and the European markets of France, Italy, and Spain, with double-digit declines expected in their media ad spending growth.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast