Online media spend in the US totaled $277.3 billion last year, up 13.5% from 2021, according to the latest data from Winterberry Group. This growth is slightly below the 16.6% year-over-year growth predicted for last year, indicating a slight deceleration in digital media spending. Nonetheless, online marketing spend accounted for roughly 57.7% of the $480.8 billion in total, up from about 55.6% share in 2021. This year, online marketing spending is forecast to grow by 10.8%, with its share predicted to rise to 60.3% share of the total ($509.2 billion).
Here’s a rundown of this latest look at spending on each channel, in order of total spend last year.
Consistent with the past few years, search accounted for the largest portion of US online media spending in 2022. Spend in this channel totaled $98.4 billion in 2021, up 16.1% over the previous year. This year’s growth is expected to be slower, at 9.3% year-over-year (y-o-y), with total spending projected to well exceed $100 billion ($107.6). For context, that would be larger than the two biggest offline spending categories (linear TV and direct mail), combined.
Paid social retained its standing as the second-largest area for US online media spend in 2022. However, this channel posted muted growth of just 2.4% (to $60B) after shooting up by 33.3% a year earlier.
Investment in paid social is expected to recover to a somewhat stronger growth rate of 6.8% this year (to $64.1 billion), but the gap with search will widen again by virtue of a slower forecast growth rate. Of note, the retail sector – the largest spender on advertising in the US, as well as the fastest-growing – appears to be shifting dollars from social to search.
Digital video spending continues to grow at a healthy clip. In 2022, this channel recorded above-average growth of 17.5% to $47 billion. The double-digit growth is expected to continue this year, with a projected increase of 14.3% to $53.7 billion.
CTV enjoyed the fastest growth in spending last year of all the online media analyzed (+46.5%, to reach $21.2 billion). This growth is being powered in part by a proliferation of OTT viewing on CTV devices and new advertising options, with looming cookie deprecation also a factor. This year, CTV is forecast to again be the fastest-growing (with IAB projections concurring), though growth will decelerate. The forecast indicates that CTV spend will rise by 27.2% to $26.9 billion, which would place it at almost half the size of projected linear TV ad spend ($56.9 billion).
Display — which the report notes refers only to banner ads that appear on desktop — grew by a below-average 6.5% last year, accounting for $15.4 billion of total online media spend. Spending on display is set to expand at a more rapid rate of 8% this year (though that trails the overall online average) to reach $16.6 billion.
Digital Audio (Radio/Podcasts)
Interestingly, digital audio (radio/podcasts) investments increased by a slower rate than the overall online media average last year, at 9.3% versus the 13.5% total across online media. That’s notable given that digital audio has been a fast-rising medium in the past. Nonetheless, the 9.3% growth posted for 2022 was enough to catapult digital audio to a greater total spend $6.1 billion than email/SMS ($6 billion).
This year digital audio ad spending is expected to grow by 9.8% (to $6.7 billion), closer to the overall average growth rate of 10.8%.
This channel also recorded below-average growth rates last year, per Winterberry Group, with email/SMS spend expanding by a modest 5.7% to $6.0 billion. Growth is expected to decelerate even further this year, with spend projected to increase by just 1.3% (to $6.1 billion), representing the second-slowest outlook among online media.
Influencer spending jumped by 27.9% last year (the second-fastest rate of growth among online media) to $5.9 billion, challenging email/SMS in size and overtaking video game advertising spending. This year, influencer spending is projected to have the second-fastest growth rate of the online media channels examined (+17.5%) to reach $6.9 billion, overtaking email/SMS and digital audio spending in the process.
Video Game Advertising
Video games continue to be popular in the US, particularly among youth, though ad spending in this area is a fraction of the total market. Spending on video game ads grew by a modest 4% last year to $5.2 billion. This year, spending on video game advertising is expected to rebound to double-digit (10.0%) growth, with total spending forecast to reach $5.8 billion.
B2C Lead Generation
New to Winterberry Group’s analysis, B2C lead generation spending recorded only a muted increase last year, of 3.9%, to $4.8 billion. The outlook is considerably worse this year, as spending in this area will only inch up by 0.9%, the lowest rate of growth of any online medium covered.
Affiliate Network Fees
Affiliate network fees, excluding media and platform costs, climbed by 9.4% last year to $3.8 billion. A similar rate of growth is expected this year (+9.9%), as spending in this area reaches $4.1 billion.
The out-of-home (OOH) advertising segment has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, buoyed by digital OOH. Last year, digital OOH ad spending grew by an above-average rate of 15% to reach $3.6 billion, per Winterberry Group. The growth will continue this year, though at a slightly below-average pace, with spend forecast to grow by 10.0% to $3.9 billion.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on Winterberry Group spend estimates.