Global advertising spending is forecast to boom this year, surging a record 14 per cent to an all-time high as the world economy emerges from the pandemic with a summer of sport and consumer exuberance.

Closely watched estimates from Magna, a research group that is part of IPG Mediabrands, predicts global spending by marketers will increase $78bn to $657bn, largely driven by the flourishing digital ad market.

Vincent Létang, who runs global forecasting for the research agency, said it was “the strongest advertising annual growth ever monitored by Magna”, far outstripping previous forecasts from the main media selling agencies.

The positive trend, which is expected in all big markets, is a boost for advertising holding groups such as WPP, Omnicom and IPG, as well as traditional media owners.

But Magna expects the lion’s share of new spending to be directed towards digital advertising, where Google and Facebook are the dominant players.

The forecast 15 per cent upswing in the US market is the highest in four decades and is a 9 percentage point increase on Magna’s previous estimates, particularly driven by a pick-up in consumption and the return of big sporting events.

Advertising spending, especially in traditional media, was initially hit hard by the pandemic lockdowns. But a rapid shift to online marketing boosted global platforms such as Google, Facebook and Alibaba, limiting the decrease in overall global ad spending in 2020 to just 2.5 per cent.

Magna expects the upsurge in ecommerce and online marketing to continue through this year, with digital ad formats capturing the vast majority of the recovery in sales. Digital advertising is forecast to grow 20 per cent, representing about 64 per cent of total ad sales in 2021.

By contrast, traditional advertising mediums such as print, magazines, out-of-home billboards and radio are expected to return to growth, but only at a much more modest 3 per cent rate.

Magna expects that the return of drinks and car ads and a summer of sport, including the Euro 2000 football tournament and Olympic Games in Japan, will help traditional television, with higher prices making up for declining audience numbers. Newspaper ad sales are, however, still expected to decrease 4 per cent, even in this recovery year.

Every one of the 70 ad markets around the world monitored by Magna are expected to see increases in marketing expenditure, with the UK leading the way with a 16.8 per cent rebound, China on 16 per cent and Brazil on 15.2 per cent.

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