Worldwide Digital Ad Spending 2021

Surprisingly Resilient 2020 Presages Another Surge

Executive Summary

In 2020, worldwide ad spending had its most disappointing year on record in terms of growth, but the final figures outperformed dire mid-pandemic projections. Digital ad spending, meanwhile, held up surprisingly well.

How did the pandemic affect our forecasts?

Despite historic economic disruptions, worldwide digital ad spending nearly matched our pre-pandemic forecast for 2020. In February 2020, we forecast 13.6% growth for digital ad spending worldwide for the year. The final figure was a very close 12.7%. However, total ad spending declined by 1.2%, driven by a 15.7% contraction in traditional ad spending.

How will digital ad spending fare this year?

Total digital ad spending will reach $455.30 billion this year. Of that, 55.2% will go to display advertising, and 40.2% will go to search. As recently as three years ago, the gap between display and search was only around 10 percentage points, but now it is 15, equating to $68.12 billion more in spending for display than for search. Consumer shifts toward social media and digital video are accelerating the rise of display.

Which country will lead in ad spending growth?

Of the 37 national markets we cover, only China recorded overall ad spending growth in 2020, at 7.4%, but even that increase represented a huge deceleration. This year, all markets will bounce back. India will lead the pack with a 31.7% ad spend increase and will remain No. 1 in growth at least throughout our forecast period to 2025. Most countries will return to or exceed their 2019 trend lines for digital ad spending growth.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest forecast for overall ad spending, digital ad spending, display ad spending, search ad spending, and mobile ad spending worldwide. It also features country and company breakdowns for digital ad spending and revenues.

KEY STAT: Worldwide digital ad spending increased 12.7% last year, almost as much as what we projected pre-pandemic (13.6%). This year, as the overall ad market rebounds, digital spending will increase by 20.4%.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. How the Pandemic Changed the Worldwide Ad Market
  3. A Deeper Dive on Our Latest Worldwide Ad Spending Forecast
  1. Market Comparisons: A Country-by-Country Look
  2. Social Media and Ecommerce Gobble Up Share
  3. Key Takeaways
  1. Read Next
  2. Media Gallery

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Ethan Cramer-Flood


Oscar Bruce Jr.
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Zach Goldner
Junior Forecasting Analyst
Eric Haggstrom
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Nazmul Islam
Junior Forecasting Analyst
Brian Lau
Digital Apprentice
Shelleen Shum
Senior Director, Forecasting
Peter Vahle
Forecasting Analyst
Vincent Yip
Forecasting Analyst

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