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Global Ad Trends: The State of the Industry 2020/21

A review of global advertising investment, media consumption and CPM inflation

The latest research by WARC from 100 markets worldwide shows that 2020 was the worst year on record for traditional advertising media, while the online market failed to record growth for the first time since the Dotcom crash.

Adspend excluding political campaigning is down by 11.0% to $552bn this year with the rate of decline double that of the last recession in real terms. The automotive, retail, and travel & tourism sectors all cut ad budgets sharply this year.

Key findings include:
  • Media owners saw revenues fall by a combined $63bn in 2020.
  • Ad market decline this year is double that of the Great Recession after accounting for inflation.
  • Ad investment is forecast to rise by 6.7% next year, meaning only 59% of this year’s losses will be recouped.
  • The majority of ad money will be transacted by machines for the first time in 2021.
  • Online video is the only format to have its 2020 growth estimate upgraded, and it will lead growth in 2021.
  • All product categories are set to increase spend next year, though only three will top their 2019 total.
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