Ad Spend Hallelujah: Forecast Sees Big Growth For Online

The email and SMS channels should see a rebound in investment to $5.6 billion, a 9.9% increase over 2020, according to The Outlook for Data Driven Advertising & Marketing 2021, a study by Winterberry Group.  

It’s a small part of a “much bigger snapback” in overall ad spending — a projected 10% increase to $374 billion, says Bruce Biegel, senior management partner of Winterberry Group, during a briefing on Thursday for the Direct Marketing Club of New York. 

All this depends on a variety of factors, including COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, the post-election global macroeconomic risk, a stimulus package, tariff reductions and a return to sanity.  

But assuming things are on track, online media spending should grow by 17.8% to $198.3 billion, versus $175.9 billion for offline-- the first time digital spending comes out first. 

Last year, offline barely edged past digital — $171.9 billion to $168.4 billion. The change will be partly driven by the boost in ecommerce in retail YoY — from 16.1% to 20.7%. 



Search will get $66.2 million, for a 14.1% increase. And paid social will receive $47.9 billion, for a 15.5% increase.

Looking back at last year’s projections, the ad industry expected a general 7.2% boost to $389.5 billion. 

But COVID-19 led to a 10.21% falloff, from $379 billion in 2019 to $340.3 billion. 

Offline media faltered badly last year, seeing a 22.9% decline to $171.0 billion, with all but one category losing dollars. The one winner was addressable TV, which went rose by 4.9% to $2.1 billion. 

Among collaboration solutions, U.S. marketers are using: 

  • Clean room or other secured, share environment — 62%
  • Data exchange — 60%
  • Digital data marketplace — 48% 
  • Data co-op — 48%
  • None of the above — 7% 

Data sharing, anonymized or not, will be based on permissions across the supply chain and eco system, Biegel notes. 




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