The biannual dentsu Ad Spend Report anticipates a 10.4% growth in global advertising investment in 2021, an estimated whopper of US$634 billion. The report consists of data from 59 markets.

Moreover, the cumulative ad spend in APAC is expected to grow by 8.0% or US$17 billion (totalling to US$229 billion), with Australia and India projecting particularly high growth rates in 2021, whilst that of China is expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels.

The decline in ad expenditures brought forth by the pandemic was less severe than expected during 2020, with new trends emerging in consumer behaviour and ad spending adhering.

Let me lay down some more numbers on you, call it stats for nerds. By the end of 2021, APAC is also expected to experience growth in digital spend (12.8%), estimated to be US$124.5 billion, which is 54% of total ad spend. Social (33.4%), Video (10.8%), and Search (7.8%) are also expected to grow, totalling US$23.1 billion.

So what about offline ad spending? Following a 15% decline in 2020, offline or linear ad spending will experience a growth of 2.8% to US$104.8 billion, while spend levels in APAC are forecasted to remain below pre-pandemic levels in 2021.  

The dentsu figures suggest a move towards CTV and OTT and audiences moving more towards digital media consumption, meaning Linear TV spend will remain below pre-pandemic levels until beyond 2021, despite the fact that regional live events such as Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Games continue to be a significant driver of growth in Linear TV ad spend in APAC (3.9% increase in 2021 to reach US$59.2 billion).

Moreover, with restrictions lifting on social activity, OOH will experience a rebound post impact of the pandemic, rising 7.5% in 2021 in the region. Radio will also see a growth (4.3%) in 2021.

Continuing on its evolution towards new modes of digital deliveries, Print is experiencing a slight decline of -2.7% in 2021, and is expected to remain on that trend in 2022, even though most channels are returning to growth.

With Governments supporting the distribution of vaccines and other related initiatives, spending at their end will remain a key area for growth. In APAC’s key markets, the travel and transport sectors, will still be affected by the uncertainty of the past year and see a muted increase in demand (4.9%), while Media & Entertainment is forecast to see growth (9.7%).

Despite the obvious decline in growth of APAC’s ad spending prompted by the elephant in the room, i.e. Señor Pandemic de la 2020, it has been picking up since dentsu’s report published in January 2021. Marching towards 2022, recovery is set to continue when spending is likely to reach US$243.6 billion and grow at a rate of 6.3%.

“Malaysia shows better signs of recovery in the second half especially as the government intensifies the roll out of vaccinations which would lead to the progressive reopening of the economic sectors, leading to improved consumer confidence and demand. I am pleased with the acceleration of digital spending overall in Malaysia, with the greater emphasis on digital creatives. However, over the last year many companies over-invested in tactical spending as consumers went online. It is imperative as we look at the promise of recovery that brands not forget to invest in the emotional quotient of their relationship with consumers and continue to build their brand engagement, thinking about people-based marketing in the long term.” – Kien Eng Tan, CEO Malaysia, dentsu Malaysia

“Advertising spending in Malaysia so far in 2021 almost reflects the trend in 2019 even though it hasn’t reached similar spend levels yet but this year we have seen growth in TV, Video and Social. We have also seen an organic growth in need for multiscreen planning with extended Covid-19 related restrictions which has led to growth on Video spends.  We are confident that DOOH will see a re-bound to growth this year as soon as outdoor movement restrictions are relaxed and we will also forecast spends on real programmatic DOOH with DSP-SSP tech integrations being lined up for the market. TV and Digital will remain two dominant mediums in terms of share of spends for the rest of 2021.” – Dheeraj Raina, CEO Media Malaysia, dentsu Malaysia

Growth in global ad spend between 2019 and 2022

Year-on-year % growth at current prices (January 2021 figures in brackets)

Share of global ad spend by channel between 2019 and 2022

January 2021 figures in brackets

The dentsu Ad Spend Report can be viewed here: