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US Digital Ad Spending by Industry 2021

Strong Growth Across the Board as 2020’s Roller Coaster Subsides

About This Report
After an inconsistent year for digital ad spending in 2020, every industry in the US will increase their outlays in 2021. The retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and entertainment industries will provide the biggest boosts, driving up overall digital ad spending by 25.5%.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

We estimate that digital ad buyers in the US will spend $191.09 billion in 2021, a 25.5% increase over last year. In 2020, growth was only 14.9%, low by recent standards but well above our expectations from just after the onset of the pandemic.

Which industry will spend the most on digital advertising in the US?

The retail industry has long led the US in digital ad spending, and it will continue to this year, accounting for almost a quarter of the national total. In a distant second and third place are consumer packaged goods ($30.56 billion) and financial services ($24.49 billion), respectively. No other industry will spend over $20 billion per year until 2023.

Which industries will post the most rapid growth in digital ad spending?

Entertainment had a difficult run last year, and it entered 2021 with plenty of pent-up ad buying demand. Its digital ad outlays will rebound by 37.2% this year, while retail will see the second-fastest growth (34.5%). Consumer packaged goods (CPG) will be the only other vertical to produce a comparable rate (31.7%).

How much of their spending will go to mobile advertising?

This year, mobile will capture $129.79 billion in spending and level off with about 68% of the digital ad market, after years of stealing share from nonmobile digital formats. Retail will once again be the biggest mobile spender in 2021, accounting for 23.8% of the mobile ad market.

How will industries split their spending among search, display, and video?

Display will keep taking share from search, but only very slowly. Collectively, industries will spend 56.8% of their budgets on display and 40.0% on search this year. Of their display spending, 51.0% will go to video, making 2021 the first time that video will account for the majority of the display category.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest forecasts for US digital ad spending across 10 industries: automotive, computing products and consumer electronics, CPG, entertainment, financial services, healthcare and pharma, media, retail, telecom, and travel.

KEY STAT: Entertainment, retail, and CPG will all increase their digital ad spending by more than 30% this year. Travel’s will rebound, but only modestly. Healthcare and pharma’s spending growth will decelerate considerably.


Ethan Cramer-Flood


Bill Fisher
Senior Analyst
Oscar Orozco
Director, Forecasting
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