UK Digital Ad Spending by Industry 2021

Retail Leads as Post-Pandemic Rebounds Remain Uneven

About This Report
Digital ad spending across several industries in the UK has been up-and-down the past two years. There will be across-the-board growth this year, but at uneven rates, ranging from 33.0% for travel to 7.8% for automotive.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

In 2021, UK digital ad spending will grow by 16.8% to £19.23 billion ($24.66 billion). Retail will contribute the most to that total as the pandemic recovery continues, but growth across all industries will be a feature this year.

Which industries will spend the most—and least—on digital advertising in 2021?

Retail will pull even further ahead of all other categories in 2021, spending £3.98 billion ($5.11 billion). The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is second, reaching £2.79 billion ($3.58 billion). Meanwhile despite some rebound from 2020, travel bottoms out the rankings with £1.07 billion ($1.38 billion) in spending.

Which industries will have the biggest changes in growth?

Travel spending was hit hard last year, dropping more than half in year-over-year (YoY) growth. We expect growth to rebound by a massive 84 percentage points this year. By comparison, automotive won’t recover as well due to pandemic-related challenges in production.

Have format and device trends altered as a result of the pandemic?

Not really. Spending patterns that we’d expected to see before the pandemic were merely accentuated by it. The bump to desktop/laptop spending that might have been expected thanks to the uptake of working from home didn’t really materialize.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest forecasts for digital ad spending in six sectors—automotive, computing products and consumer electronics, CPG, financial services, retail, and travel—and outlines key trends shaping these forecasts.

KEY STAT: Retail will be the biggest digital ad spender in the UK this year, accounting for more than one-fifth of all spending. At the other end of the scale, despite a bounce back in 2021, travel spend will account for just 5.6% of digital spending.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Overview of Our Digital Ad Spending by Industry Numbers
  3. Automotive Digital Ad Spending
  4. Computing Products and Consumer Electronics Digital Ad Spending
  1. CPG Digital Ad Spending
  2. Financial Services Digital Ad Spending
  3. Retail Digital Ad Spending
  4. Travel Digital Ad Spending
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. Read Next
  3. Sources
  4. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

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Bill Fisher


Ross Benes
Senior Analyst
Ethan Cramer-Flood
Senior Forecasting Writer
Zach Goldner
Junior Forecasting Analyst