Dentsu forecasts revival in adspend in 2021, digital to account for 50% for first time

India, the UK and and France expected to see fastest growth, and the OOH market will revive.

Dentsu: report forecasts green shoots of recovery
Dentsu: report forecasts green shoots of recovery

Global adspend is forecast to rebound and grow by 5.8% globally in 2021, according to the first Dentsu Ad Spend Report since the global pandemic began

The report combines data from 59 markets and anticipates that $579bn (£424bn) will be spent globally, with all regions enjoying positive growth to offset a fall of 8.8% in 2020.

Latin America (10.2%), Western Europe (7.5%), Asia-Pacific (5.9%) and North America (4.0%) will see strong growth figures, which will be driven by uplifts in investment in key countries such as India (10.8%), the United Kingdom (10.4%) and France (8.9%).

Digital will account for half of all spend for the first time, with social (18.3%), search (11.0%) and video (10.8%) expected to benefit the most.


Industry sectors that have been impacted the hardest by Covid-19 will also see the biggest bounce-backs. Based on analysis in eight markets, the travel and transport (28.4%), media and entertainment (14.5%) and automotive (13.8%) sectors will all grow significantly after being hit hard.

There will also be consistent levels of growth for sectors such as technology (6.0%), finance (5.6%) and telecoms (4.8%), which all proved relatively resilient in 2020.

“We know from our own CMO survey that understanding consumer behaviour in a post-pandemic world is the biggest challenge marketers face," Peter Huijboom, global CEO of media at Dentsu International, said.

"To build hyper-empathy... will require a real focus and investment in data, ecommerce, and new technologies like connected TV, as well as building deeper partnerships across all areas of the industry."

Meanwhile, the return of major sporting events, which were delayed last year and are presumed to take place this year, such as the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and the UEFA Euro 2020, will also represent a significant driver of growth.

TV is set to benefit in particular from these live events as advertisers look to capitalise on the huge global audiences they draw. It is expected to drive a 1.7% increase globally to $169bn TV spend, which accounts for 29% of all ad spend globally.


In addition, with the recovery of auto and passenger traffic, OOH ad spend is expected to recover, with 14.9% growth in 2021. Digital OOH is evolving quickly, both its offer (including programmatic capabilities) as well as demand (advertisers’ use of this media), the report notes.  

Despite the positive signs of momentum in 2021, a return to pre-pandemic levels of advertising spend is unlikely until 2022, when spending is likely to reach $619bn and grow at a rate of 6.9%.

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