- Advertising executives expect spending on digital advertising in the U.S. will grow 6% this year, contrasting with an 8% decline for the broader ad market. Spending on traditional media that includes linear TV, out-of-home, standard radio, print and direct mail will plunge 30%, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found in survey results this week.
- Among the digital ad categories, paid search is the fastest-growing with a 26% estimated gain, followed by social media (25%), connected TV (19%), digital video (18%) and digital display (15%). Spending on several digital outlets will dip this year, including a 43% drop for digital OOH, 8% decline for podcasts and 5% slide for digital audio.
- Media buyers who have a "very clear" or "somewhat clear" idea of their 2021 budgets said their ad spending will increase 5.3% next year. Only 30% of advertising executives have a clear idea of their budgets, leaving 70% with vague or nonexistent estimates for 2021, the survey found. The IAB surveyed 242 professionals with insights on media spending.
The comparably positive spending outlook for digital media indicates that marketers are prioritizing platforms that have seen a significant increase in usage during the pandemic, including social media and search.
The double-digit lift in expected spending on connected TV (CTV) comes from a smaller base than linear TV, making the difference more dramatic. CTV spending had been forecast to grow to $10.8 billion by next year from $7 billion in 2019 as more viewers canceled their cable and satellite subscriptions and watched ad-supported services like Roku and Hulu, according to eMarketer. CTV usage expanded as homebound viewers sought other viewing options while stuck at home during the pandemic — a behavior that's remained elevated, cutting into time spent on linear TV, per researcher Nielsen.
The decline in linear TV spending may reflect disruptions to college sports, including football games that have been a mainstay of broadcasting for years. Many college leagues have canceled or delayed their seasons, leading advertisers to look for other media outlets that will reach viewers. Last season, advertisers spent $1.16 billion on national TV advertising for college football games, per Standard Media Index data cited by The Wall Street Journal. Some of that spending is likely to find its way into professional football games as the NFL prepares to start its regular season next week.
The planned uptick in digital spending is positive for search giant Google and social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter and Snapchat. Google's parent company Alphabet reported the first decline in ad revenue in its 26-year history, but IAB's latest survey suggests ad spending will return to the platform as marketers ramp up efforts around the holiday season. Facebook reported slower revenue growth in Q2, but said it had seen signs of a recovery as the quarter progressed. The full effects of an advertiser boycott in July to protest its content moderation policies won't be known until it reports Q3 results.