US Programmatic Digital Display Advertising Outlook 2021

Spending and Trends

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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

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20expert perspectives

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

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    authors

    Nicole Perrin

    Contributors

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