US Mobile Ad Spending Experiences Modest Rebound Amidst Uncertain Market

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With ad spending down across the industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, new eMarketer figures indicate that mobile advertising will likely fare better than most as it continues to attract an increasing share of digital ad spending.

The takeaways:

  • Prior to the coronavirus, eMarketer predicted that more than two-thirds of US digital ad dollars would go to mobile platforms in 2020.
  • Since the pandemic, figures have been revised. US mobile ad spending this year will increase just 4.8%, a significant reduction from last year’s 23.0% growth and estimated growth of 22.5% for 2021.
  •  In general for digital advertising, performance channels have been more successful than branding channels. Ads on social media, gaming and streaming video apps have performed well, with location-based advertising most hard hit.

By the numbers: with the rapid expansion of 5G networks and of smartphone and tablet adoption over the past decade, the global mobile advertising market has grown increasingly large.

  • In March, forecasts expected mobile ad spending to increase by 20.7% in 2020. The estimates now stand at 4.8% growth amounting to $4.22 billion.
  • Figures predict that mobile will account for 68.0% of digital ad spending, on par with pre-pandemic forecasts of 68.3%.
  • This modest growth casts doubts on previous industry forecasts that mobile ad spend would outpace desktop by 2022.

The thorny side: Although the increase in US mobile ad spending in 2021 is on track to return to pre-pandemic levels, it is predicted that this year’s lost growth will have a long-lasting effect on overall spending until at least 2024.

The roll-up: There are still many unknowns about how severe the pandemic will be in the autumn and winter, and about the resulting impact on markets.  Signs so far indicate that the prevailing consensus might be a little optimistic.

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