According to our July 2021 forecast, 2023 will be a pivotal year for the US B2B digital ad market as spending approaches $15 billion. By then, the seismic transformation spurred by the pandemic will be permanent.

Last year, US B2B pivoted from in-person channels to digital ads to reach audiences. In 2021, the growth in digital ad spending was even greater than we originally estimated, indicating the shift to digital isn’t slowing down. Digital ads spending—never a central part of B2B go-to market strategies—will also remain a more prevalent part of the B2B media mix in the coming years.

B2B digital ad spending in 2022

US B2B digital ad spending grew during the pandemic from $6.55 billion in 2019 to $8.68 billion in 2020, increasing 32.5% year over year (YoY), according to our July 2021 estimates.

Increased investment continued in 2021, with US B2Bs spending $10.84 billion, climbing 24.9% YoY. Through the rest of our forecast period, the US B2B digital market will continue to grow but at a slower rate: up 16.8% in 2022 to $12.65 billion and growing another 15.1% in 2023 to $14.57 billion.

While US B2B digital ad spending is a very small share of the overall digital ad market, that share saw a jump in 2020 that will not diminish over time, demonstrating digital’s growing importance for B2Bs.

In 2019, US B2B digital ad spending was 4.9% of the total digital ad market. Pre-pandemic, that figure was relatively stable every year, going back to 2016. As a result of increases in US B2B digital ad spending in 2020 and onward, B2Bs will account for a larger share of overall digital ad spending for the next several years. At the same time, B2B’s share of total media ad spending continues to decline YoY and will fall from 9.3% in 2019 to 8.8% in 2023.

B2B total ad spending in 2022

The B2B total ad market is a tale of two converse stories: digital growing and traditional slowly recovering and stalling after steep decline.

Overall, US B2Bs spent $22.14 billion on advertising in 2020, a decline of 2% from $22.58 billion in 2019. In 2021, the entire B2B ad spending market recovered, growing 16.5% YoY to reach almost $26 billion. By 2023, US B2Bs will spend over $30 billion on advertising in the US.

The shift in reliance among B2Bs on digital advertising shows up in the growth of digital’s share of total US B2B advertising. In 2021, digital channels made up 42.0% of total US B2B advertising. That share will jump to 48.0% by 2023.

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B2B traditional vs digital media ad spending

Traditional media still made up the majority of US B2B ad spending in 2021. Pre-pandemic, in 2019, traditional media’s share was 71.0%. In 2020, as investment in digital ads increased, traditional media’s share decreased to 60.8%. Before the abrupt digital reallocations of 2020, it took almost five years for US B2B traditional media to lose 10% share.

US B2B traditional ad media spending will continue to see a decline in share through to the end of our forecast period. By 2023, that share will be 52.0%, and we expect that it will keep declining YoY for the foreseeable future.