2021 Ad Market Outlook

BY Kathy Crosett
Featured image for “2021 Ad Market Outlook”

With Q4 2020 nearly upon us, your clients might be sweating the details on how to ring up sales. While you’re working with clients to find the right media mix for the rest of the year, the 2021 ad market outlook is likely also weighing on your mind. One big gift to media sellers maybe the positive projections for 2021 ad buying recently shared by the IAB.

When comparing 2020 spending numbers with 2019 ad spending, the reality is sobering. The projected 8% drop in the ad market is unevenly split between digital and traditional formats. Overall, traditional advertising’s plunge of 30% breaks out as follows:

  • Linear TV — 24%
  • Traditional OOH — 46%
  • Terrestrial Radio — 31%
  • Direct Mail — 17%
  • Print ‑33%

The digital ad market will probably increase by 6% and some formats will show growth over 2019:

  • CTV +19%
  • Digital Video +18%
  • Digital Display +15%
  • Social Media +25%
  • Paid Search +26%

But not every digital format is expected to increase this year. Digital OOH (-43%), podcast ads (-8%) and digital audio (-5%) will all take a hit.

The spending statistics for connected TV are certainly believable. The latest research from Nielsen indicates that 25% of U.S. consumers’ TV time is now spent on streaming content. We don’t have a crystal ball that can predict consumer media use for 2021. And to some extent, their behavior may be dictated by the course of the COVID-​19 outbreak and eventual suppression. But as consumers spend more time with digital media, your clients can’t take a chance on being left behind. If your clients haven’t adjusted their media mix accordingly, talk with them about what they can do to reach more consumers.

2021 Ad Market Outlook

As your clients are plotting their 2021 strategy, you should know that 70% of media buyers are still developing their budgets. That leaves 30% who are somewhat or very clear about how to proceed. The ad market spending increase for next year, based on the IAB’s Spend Research Study No. 6, is 5.3%. A lot can change between now and then, but discussing this projection with clients might be a good way to open a conversation about selling more media space. In addition, they should be thinking about their digital ad media mix as these formats will be in demand next year.

Yellow Light for Social Media

Consumers who are no longer commuting every day aren’t spending all of their additional time on work projects. Many consumers have become more politically active and are taking stands on matters of social justice. They also expect the vendors they support to remain committed to important social matters. In particular, vendors are monitoring what’s happening on social media sites and, in some cases, they’re cancelling ad placements. At least 16% of buyers who have these concerns have cancelled placements through the end of the year and another 8% will extend these cancellations indefinitely. Navigating the world of social media placements can be difficult. After all, being cancelled because of content that appears next to an ad can be a marketer’s worst nightmare.

Not all social sites target the same consumers. You can get a sense of their customers' social site activity by running a Digital Audit, available from AdMall by SalesFuel.