US Retail Digital Ad Spending 2020

Rapid Shift to Ecommerce Keeps Retail Digital Ad Budgets Above Water

Executive Summary

US retail digital ad spending will increase by 3.1% this year, to $28.23 billion. This is slightly faster growth than US digital ad spending overall, which will shrink to just 1.7% amid the coronavirus disruption. Retail will remain the largest digital ad spending vertical.

How does retail compare with other industries?

The retail industry will spend $8.61 billion more on digital ads this year than the next-closest vertical, financial services, and nearly $25 billion more than the lowest-spending industry, travel. Overall, retail will account for 21.0% of total US digital ad spend.

Which digital ad format will see the most spending?

The retail industry is extremely balanced in its approach to digital advertising. Retailers will spend 47.9% of their budgets on display ads and 47.5% on search ads. Within display, retailers will spend 48.4% on video ads.

Which platforms are favored for digital retail ads?

Mobile is king, but retail still overindexes on desktop/laptop ad spending compared with other industries. Retail ad spending on mobile will surpass $18 billion this year, and desktop/laptop spending will reach nearly $10 billion. Both of these figures far and away lead their respective packs, and for desktop/laptop spending, retail nearly doubles the next-closest industry.

How has the coronavirus changed our outlook?

Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic and subsequent decline in economic activity, we had forecast another strong year for digital retail ad spending, with 16.9% expected growth and spending above $33 billion. Our new numbers suggest roughly $5 billion less in spending than previously anticipated.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report includes our annual breakdown of US retail digital ad spending. It includes a comprehensive overview of total digital ad spending, as well as estimates by channel, device and format, and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected these figures.

KEY STAT: US retail digital ad spending will increase by just 3.1% this year, for a total of $28.23 billion. Next year’s growth will rebound to 25.7%.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. US Retail Digital Ad Spending Outlook
  3. Digital Ad Spending by Device
  1. Digital Ad Spending by Format
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Dave Antonelli
Dish Media
Director, Sling TV
Interviewed June 12, 2020
Arsen Avakian
Cooler Screens
Co-Founder and CEO
Interviewed June 17, 2020
Danielle Cravatt
Senior Vice President, Client Partnerships
Interviewed June 8, 2020
Klarn DePalma
MNI Targeted Media
Executive Vice President
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Stephani Estes
Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Media
Interviewed June 8, 2020
Doug Grumet
AMP Agency
Senior Vice President, Media
Interviewed June 9, 2020
Kunal Gupta
Founder and CEO
Interviewed June 4, 2020
Cheryl Huckabay
The Richards Group
Managing Principal, Media
Interviewed June 15, 2020
Jennifer Kohl
Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Integrated Media
Interviewed June 10, 2020
Todd Krizelman
Founder and CEO
Interviewed June 4, 2020
James Malins
General Manager, Cross-Channel Strategic Solutions
Interviewed June 25, 2020
Japhia Mangan
Senior Account Director
Interviewed June 12, 2020
Mike Menkes
Analytic Partners
Senior Vice President
Interviewed June 9, 2020
Jon Morgenstern
Senior Vice President and Head of Investment
Interviewed June 18, 2020
Frost Prioleau
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Jon Schulz
Viant Technology
Interviewed June 10, 2020
Scott Symonds
AKQA Media
Managing Partner, Media
Interviewed June 16, 2020
Jeremy Tate
DWA, a Merkle Company
Senior Vice President and General Manager
Interviewed June 4, 2020
Vanessa Vignon
UbiSoft Entertainment
President, Audience, Acquisition and Management
Interviewed June 23, 2020
April Weeks
Executive Vice President, Media Services and Operations
Interviewed June 15, 2020
Brian Wieser
Global President, Business Intelligence
Interviewed June 26, 2020

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Ethan Cramer-Flood


Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Oscar Orozco
Senior Forecasting Analyst