More Than Half of US Programmatic Digital Display Ad Dollars Go to Social Networks

US advertisers will pump more than $57 billion into programmatic digital display advertising this year, and more than half of that investment will go to digital display ads on social networks.

Programmatic advertising, defined as the use of automation in the buying, selling or fulfilling of digital ads, will account for 83.5% of total digital display ad spending this year, according to our recent forecast. Over the next two years, continued investment in areas such as digital audio, social video, connected TV and over-the-top (OTT) advertising will drive US programmatic ad spending to nearly $80 billion.

Of the $57.30 billion digital display ad dollars transacted programmatically this year, a significant portion (56.3%) will go to banners, video and other display ad units across social networks. We predict social’s share of programmatic ad dollars will rise through 2021 as advertisers continue to prioritize social video and other social network ad formats.

“Advertising in a cookie-free mobile app environment where users spend much of their digital time is complicated and difficult,” said Eric Haggstrom, forecasting analyst at eMarketer. “Social networks prove to be the major exception. They’ve made it relatively easy to target audiences at scale in an in-app environment.”

Since our April 2019 forecast, we’ve increased our estimates for social as a portion of total programmatic thanks to stronger-than-expected performance from social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, and ongoing expectations that advertisers will continue to seek out social networks and other walled gardens over the next 24 months.

“These sites have the scale and identity capabilities that advertisers want,” said Lauren Fisher, principal analyst at eMarketer. “That matters, particularly as we enter into a world where privacy restrictions are making it harder for advertisers to track, target and measure.”

For more on our latest US programmatic ad spending estimates for mobile and video—or to get more information on how programmatic investment breaks down across the open markets, private marketplaces or programmatic direct—listen to this episode of "The Ad Platform," the advertising-specific segment of our "Behind the Numbers" podcast.

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