A Guide to Digital Ad Spend in 2021


After a rollercoaster of a year in 2020, it is estimated that US digital ad buyers will spend $191.09 billion in 2021, a 25.5% increase over last year. Curious to see where your industry stacks up? We’ve rounded up eMarketer’s 2021 digital ad spend report below.

Digital ad spend by industry

Similar to recent years, the retail industry will continue to lead the US in digital ad spend, accounting for almost a quarter of the national total. Consumer Packaged Goods ($30.56 billion) and Financial Services ($24.49 billion) will follow, while no other industry will spend over $20 billion per year until the year 2023. The travel sector will rebound slightly, while healthcare and pharma’s spending will decrease. Due to pent-up demand from 2020, entertainment will grow the fastest in 2021.

Is mobile still king?

This year, it is estimated mobile will capture $129.79 billion in spending and retail will be the biggest mobile spender. Although mobile spend is still increasing, its share grab has been slowed by the accelerating popularity of CTV. Since its inception, mobile has steadily increased its share of the digital ad market every year, but it will settle in at roughly 68% of spending over the next two years.

Entertainment, computing products and consumer electronics, CPG, financial services and telecom will devote more than 70% of their digital ad budgets to mobile. These five sectors are expected to spend a greater share on mobile than the national average, and entertainment will grow its mobile spend quickest in 2021, by 37.5%.

Digital ad spend by format

Video’s time has also come and will account for more than half of all money spent on display advertising from 2021 on. This is mostly thanks to the entertainment and tech industries which are leading the charge for digital video ads. Healthcare, pharma and travel are the friendliest to non-mobile ad spending, and they’ll spend more than half their digital ad budgets on search.

CTV ad spending is expected to reach $13.41 billion in 2021 and spending will continue to grow faster on CTV than on mobile. Surprising to many, display ad spending actually increased by 20% in 2020, and it is anticipated that growth will increase to 27.4% in 2021. The entertainment industry is expected to lead this charge, with an increase of 73.8% on display ad spend.

Interested in learning more or have questions about your own digital strategy? Our team of specialists is here to help!


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