US Mobile Ad Spending 2020

Coronavirus Crushes Spend Even as Users Covet Mobile Content

Executive Summary

In our recent ad spending forecast completed March 6, we expected mobile media to continue to attract a larger share of digital ad spending, but that was before the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the economy. Ad spend is down across the board. However, mobile will likely fare slightly better than most other media.

How will the coronavirus affect our forecast?

The coronavirus will dramatically change our 2020 forecast. Mobile ad spend through Q2 will shrink by no less than 6% and likely more than 10% year over year, and Q3 and Q4 will remain well below pre-pandemic expectations. Even so, the relative share of different platforms and formats will likely not dramatically change from our March 6 forecast. We will update our full-year digital ad spending forecast, including mobile, in June. Prior to the coronavirus, we expected US mobile ad spend to grow 20.7% to $105.34 billion in 2020, which would mean that mobile ad spend would account for more than two thirds (68.1%) of digital ad spend. We now believe any growth this year in mobile ad spend will be small, if it happens at all.

How is mobile ad spend divided between formats?

Ad spend on mobile display ads grew 22.0% to $61.00 billion. Just more than half of display ad spending was for rich media, with mobile video comprising the largest portion. Mobile video ad spend was expected to grow 28% to $26.21 billion. We expected mobile search ad spend to increase 18.5% to $39.51 billion. The overall figures for 2020 and previous years are lower than in our previous forecasts due to changes in our model.

How much of mobile ad spend does the duopoly net?

Google and Facebook were expected to capture 60.3% of mobile ad dollars. Facebook accounted for nearly one in three mobile ad dollars (33.1%). We adjusted our model (including the base number from past years) and lowered our estimates for Google, which now accounts for 27.2% of mobile ad spend. The coronavirus will dramatically reduce the ad spend that both companies net but should not reduce their share. If anything, the duopoly, along with Amazon, may gain share.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report reviews our March 6 forecast on mobile ad spending and examines how the coronavirus changes it.

KEY STAT: Mobile CPMs and revenues in the US fell sharply in the weeks following social distancing measures nationwide, but the drop was actually less steep than for most other devices, according to March 2020 data from Adomik.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Mobile Was Heading to a Banner Year—Until the Coronavirus
  3. The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Mobile Ad Spending
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. eMarketer Interviews
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Greg Anderson
Managing Director, Media Group
Interviewed March 10, 2020
Paulina Klimenko
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and General Manager, Mobile
Interviewed March 3, 2020

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Yoram Wurmser


Ross Benes
Eric Haggstrom
Forecasting Analyst
Chris Keating
Research Director
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst

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