16 JUL 2021


Spend on advertising rose 23.6% to a total of US$157.6 billion in the second quarter of 2021 – a new high for a Q2 period and the strongest rise in over a decade, according to a new WARC Data report.


The global ad market has rebounded strongly from the Covid-19 downturn last year, according to new quarterly investment forecasts in WARC Data’s latest “Global Ad Trends” report, which indicates that spend rose 23.6% to a total of US$157.6 billion in the second quarter of 2021 – a new high for a Q2 period and the strongest rise in over a decade.

That followed on from 12.5% growth in the first quarter. Consequently, at $311.5 billion, global ad investment was 17.8% higher during the first six months of the year than during the same period in 2020. This puts the market on course for 12.6% growth during 2021, almost double the 6.7% initially projected. A further growth of 8.2% is forecast for 2022, by when the global advertising market will be worth more than $700 billion.


2020 spend on offline media such as print, radio, TV and cinema fell by a fifth, or $63 billion, equating to the worst downturn for this sector in WARC’s 40 years of market monitoring. Spend online, however, rose by 9.4% ($29.2 billion) last year, buoyed by rising e-commerce (+27.4%), social media (+18.3%) and online video (+15.9%) investment.

Spend on e-commerce advertising is projected to rise 35.2% this year, mostly to the benefit of Amazon. Brand spend on search – where Google is the largest player – is set to rise by over a quarter (26.2%) this year, while online video spend is expected to be up by 17.7% and social media by 13.1% this year.

“Growth in online ad-spend has typically tracked some 20% points ahead of offline media, but in the final quarter of 2020 this leapt to a remarkable 41 points – an absolute difference of $41 billion,”  commented James McDonald, Managing Editor at WARC Data.


Advertising investment growth is expected across almost all regions in 2021 and 2022. However, despite forecast growth, only three regions are expected to have larger ad markets than before the pandemic. North America is set to surpass its 2019 total by $22 billion this year, with its ad market worth an extra $43 billion by 2022. Asia Pacific (up $37 billion on 2019) and Europe (up $18 billion) are also set to have made sizeable gains by next year.

In Latin America, 2022 spend is set to be $2 billion lower than in 2019, with the Middle East down $1 billion and Africa $310 million. However, the Qatar World Cup is expected to lift TV spend in the Middle East next year, with many bookings being made on a pan-regional basis (valued at $6 billion in 2022).