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US B2B display ad spending share is poised to blast past search ads

The forecast: Display ads like banners and graphics, which have historically been less of a priority than search ads for B2B marketers, took up a greater share of US ad spending than ever before in 2020. This year, that share will continue to grow for display ads, and by 2023 display ads will surpass search ads.

  • B2B ad spending is still growing for both search and display. In 2020, B2B search spending grew 27.3%. This year it will grow almost 20% to $5.36 billion.
  • Display ad spending is growing even faster, up nearly 40% in 2020 and posed to grow by 32.6% in 2021 to hit $5.09 billion.

What's behind this? Search ads have historically been the favored format for B2B marketers because of the reliability of keyword targeting. Focusing on a small target audience to drive traffic to their websites allows marketers to keep cost per click low. But search ads are losing their dominance as investment in display ads is on the rise on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, CTV, and audio increases.

As reported by eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence Jillian Ryan in our “US B2B Advertising Forecast 2021” report:

  • Nearly 4 in 10 US B2B marketers said display advertising was an effective channel for which they planned to increase their budget in the next year, per May 2021 findings from Ascend2 and Wpromote.
  • Roughly 3 in 4 B2B marketers worldwide expect to increase their marketing investments in online video and display advertising, according to November 2020 findings from WARC and Spotify.

Looking ahead: US B2B display ad spending share will continue to soar as spending in this category will surpass $7 billion by 2023.

A previous version of this article said display ad spending will surpass search ad spending by 2021. That figure has been corrected to say display ad spending will surpass search ad spending by 2023.