Here Are Forecasts for the Global Ad Market This Year

January 11, 2021

GroupM Global Ad Spending Growth Forecast Jan2021Following a year that saw the global advertising market contract by 5.8%, projections are more optimistic for 2021, with an expected 12.3% year-over-year growth. This is per a year-end report [download page] from GroupM which also estimates that internet advertising will account for 61% of the total global media market, a much greater share than traditional media such as TV (22.6%), out-of-home and cinema (5.2%), newspapers (4.8%), audio (4%) and magazines (2.5%).

Here’s a closer look at how each medium fared in 2020 and what revenues will look like for them in 2021. [Note: Unless otherwise stated, data excludes US political advertising.]

Internet Advertising

GroupM estimates that the global digital media market grew by 8.2% year-over-year (y-o-y) in 2020, with revenue reaching $343.1 billion.

The Presidential election in the US had a modest impact on the global digital media market, upping growth to 9.4% y-o-y and a resulting $347.6 billion in revenue.

Internet advertising spend is expected to reach $395.9 billion, representing growth of 15.4% over 2020. As US political advertising tapers off in 2021, growth in the global markets including this type of advertising is forecast to be somewhat lower (14.1%) but will result in $396.6 billion in revenue.

TV/Professionally Produced Video

Although global consumption of content, including that of TV, increased due to the pandemic, the TV and professionally produced video market saw ad revenue shrink 15.1% over 2019 (-11.2% including US political advertising), totaling $135.8 billion.

GroupM notes that while total TV advertising saw a severe decline in 2020, digital extensions “including advertising associated with traditional media owners’ streaming activities (primarily on connected environments)” grew by 7.8% y-o-y for the same period.

Additional data [press release] from Zenith highlights how ad-supported video (AVOD) on connected TV is helping to offset advertising losses caused by the growth of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services. With more connected TV users embracing ad-supported content, Zenith estimates that AVOD will contribute an average of 8.4% annual growth in online video ad spend between 2020 and 2023.

In 2021, GroupM’s data projects that the TV media market will grow by 7.8% over the previous year, with revenue reaching $146.4 billion.

Out-of-Home & Cinema

Without a doubt, the hardest hit advertising markets in 2020 were out-of-home (OOH) and cinema. Stay-at-home measures and the temporary closure of cinemas across the globe resulted in the combined markets experiencing a 33.5% decrease in ad revenues for the year for a total of $27.7 billion.

Cinema suffered the biggest decline (-75.3%) and only accounted for $655.9 million of the combined revenue. In the meantime, OOH also experienced a substantial decline in ad spend (30.6%) but accounted for the lion’s share of the combined revenue ($27 billion).

The good news is that both markets are predicted to see some recovery in 2021 with OOH expected to grow by 18.3% y-o-y and cinema’s growth thought to be 120.8% over 2020. That said, even with these increases, spending in both markets is not projected to recover to what it was 2019 within the next 3 years.

Magazines and Newspapers

Although magazine and newspaper advertising have been experiencing steady losses for some time now, 2020 saw these losses more than double. Newspaper media revenue dropped by 26.7%, while magazine media revenue fell by 22.8% y-o-y, with revenues dropping to $31 billion and $16.3 billion, respectively.

The coming year will see a small correction of sorts, with newspapers seeing growth of 1.3% and magazines seeing a lower than normal decline of 3%.


As with the other traditional forms of media, global audio advertising revenue was negatively impacted by the events of 2020. The $23.7 billion in revenues for the year represent a 24.1% decrease over 2019.

Much like the print media market, audio is set to recover somewhat in 2021, with GroupM forecasting 8.7% y-o-y growth and revenues reaching $25.7 billion. However, revenue forecasts into 2024 for this market still fall short of the $31.1 billion in revenue from 2019.

Retail Media

If there was a winner in the global ad market for 2020, the award would go to retail media. Zenith’s data shows that, boosted by an increase in e-commerce ad spend, retail media revenue was expected to reach $51 billion, an increase of 46% over 2019.

The full GroupM report, including historical ad revenue data, can be downloaded here.


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