US Programmatic Digital Display Advertising Outlook 2021

US Programmatic Digital Display Advertising Outlook 2021

Spending and Trends

About This Report
US programmatic display ad spending was up more than 10% in 2020 despite the pandemic-induced recession and will rebound this year as advertisers continue shifting budgets to flexible, measurable media.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Various forms of automated trading have dominated digital display advertising for years, and programmatic will continue gaining ground this year in pockets where it’s less penetrated, including on connected TV (CTV) devices and in digital audio ads.

How has our outlook for US programmatic ad spending changed since the pandemic?

In July 2020, we made significant cuts to our pre-pandemic forecast. However, major digital ad sellers reported better-than-expected results throughout the summer. US programmatic digital display ad spending grew more than 10% in 2020 and will rebound to 24.1% growth in 2021.

What are the fastest-growing areas of programmatic display in the US?

Broken out by device, programmatic ad spending will grow fastest on CTV, where we predict 52.9% growth in 2021. In terms of formats, video will continue to drive faster growth than nonvideo display across all devices. Another rapidly growing area is digital audio services advertising, including podcast advertising—but here, the base level of spending remains comparatively tiny.

What major trends will influence how advertisers allocate programmatic budgets in 2021 and beyond?

Infrastructural changes, including the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome and changes to Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), will shake up the programmatic media ecosystem. Consumer behavior shifts are also driving advertiser allocations, including the increasing time spent with video streaming services (often at the expense of linear TV) and the popularity of mobile gaming.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report includes our latest estimates for US programmatic digital display ad spending, as well as discussion of four important trends in the market in 2020 that will continue driving allocations this year.

KEY STAT: Advertisers increased their spending on programmatic digital ads in the US by 10.4% in 2020—better than the 6.2% growth we expected in the middle of 2020—and will continue to pour more dollars into display formats, especially video, bought through automated means.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

20expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. US Programmatic Digital Display Ad Spending
  3. The Identity Crisis
  4. Programmatic CTV Video Advertising Soars
  1. Mobile In-Game Advertising Gains Appeal
  2. The K-Shaped Recovery for Brand vs. Performance Advertising
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. Glossary
  1. Insider Intelligence Interviews
  2. Read Next
  3. Sources
  4. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Darcy Baber
Director, Product Management
Interviewed December 10, 2020
Jed Dederick
The Trade Desk
Senior Vice President, Global Client Development
Interviewed December 10, 2020
Kurt Donnell
President and CEO
Interviewed December 1, 2020
Kyle Dozeman
Chief Revenue Officer, Americas
Interviewed December 10, 2020
Andrew Eifler
Chief Product Officer
Interviewed December 11, 2020
John Goulding
Head of Strategy, US
Interviewed December 14, 2020
Ben Holmes
Vice President, Programmatic Demand
Interviewed December 7, 2020
Kevin Hunt
Senior Vice President, Global Marketing
Interviewed December 8, 2020
Romain Job
Smart AdServer
Chief Strategy Officer
Interviewed December 16, 2020
Tom Kershaw
Interviewed December 14, 2020
Walter Knapp
Interviewed December 10, 2020
Joey Leichman
Vice President, Buyer Development
Interviewed December 17, 2020
James Malins
Senior Vice President, Programmatic
Interviewed December 8, 2020
Charles Manning
Interviewed December 2, 2020
Nick McLachlan
Adobe Advertising Cloud
Product Marketing Manager
Interviewed December 9, 2020
Kunal Nagpal
General Manager, Publisher Platforms and Exchange
Interviewed December 15, 2020
Michael Nevins
Smart AdServer
Interviewed December 16, 2020
Mary Sheehan
Adobe Advertising Cloud
Head of Product Marketing
Interviewed December 9, 2020
Anudit Vikram
Chief Product Officer
Interviewed December 11, 2020
Offer Yehudai
Interviewed December 10, 2020

Access full deck

View a slide-show representation of this report’s key insights, where carefully vetted data is combined with industry trend analysis, included at no extra cost.
Download PPTX











Access All Charts and Data

Gain access to reliable data presented in clear and intelligible displays for quick understanding and decision making on the most important topics related to your industry, included at no extra cost.

Read This With Insider Intelligence


Nicole Perrin


Ross Benes
Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Bill Fisher
Senior Analyst
Peter Vahle
Forecasting Analyst