US Mobile Ad Spending Update Q3 2020

Slow Rebound Begins as Uncertainties Remain

About This Report
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, we have revised our US mobile ad spending forecast. This report puts the new numbers in context.

Executive Summary

More than two-thirds of US digital ad dollars will go to mobile platforms in 2020—a first—but the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically shrunk growth. US mobile ad spending this year will increase just 4.8%, a dramatic dip from last year’s 23.0% growth and our estimated growth of 22.5% for 2021.

How has the coronavirus pandemic changed our forecast for US mobile ad spending?

In March, we expected mobile ad spending to increase by 20.7%, or $18.04 billion, in 2020, but we now forecast 4.8% growth of $4.22 billion. We expect mobile to account for 68.0% of digital ad spending, which is slightly lower than our pre-pandemic forecast of 68.3%.

What parts of mobile advertising have fared better than others?

As with digital advertising generally, performance channels have done better than branding channels. Ads on social media, gaming and streaming video apps have held up relatively well, but location-based advertising has suffered.

What are the uncertainties going forward?

The biggest unknowns are how widespread the pandemic will be in the fall and winter, and the severity of the ensuing economic damage. Early signs are that the prevailing consensus may be too optimistic.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report covers our revised forecast for US mobile ad spending in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

KEY STAT: Although growth of US mobile ad spending in 2021 will return to pre-pandemic levels, this year’s lost growth will have a persistent effect on overall spending through at least 2024.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Mobile Ad Spending Will Manage to Grow in 2020
  3. Notes of Caution
  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 June 18, 2020
Steve Carbone
Managing Director and Chief Digital and Investment Officer
Interviewed May 29, 2020
Skye Featherstone
Snap, Inc.
Product Marketing Manager
Interviewed June 24, 2020
Paulina Klimenko
Senior Vice President of Business and Corporate Development, General Manager of Mobile
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Jude O’Connor
General Manager, Brand North America
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Anala Prabhu
Growth Product Marketing Manager, Facebook Audience Network
Interviewed June 25, 2020
Karim Rayes
Tremor Video
Chief Product Officer
Interviewed June 4, 2020
Albert Thompson
Walton Isaacson
Managing Director, Digital
Interviewed June 17, 2020
Stephen Upstone
Founder and CEO
Interviewed June 17, 2020

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