The unprecedented social and economic disruptions that affected all areas of life in the US in 2020 also skewed many of our pre-pandemic forecasts. Valuable insights can be gleaned by examining the difference between what we thought would happen as of February 2020 versus what we now project for this year and the coming years.
Today marks a big milestone at Insider Intelligence: We launched our new platform, unifying our two brands (eMarketer and Business Insider Intelligence) into a single online experience and expanded our Financial Services coverage. We also just published a report that’s been long in the making--and it happens to be our very first under the new brand.
The pandemic has been able to make common what would previously have stood out as extreme amounts of screen time.
Early in the pandemic, most consumers went through a panic-buying period—stocking up on essential goods like toilet paper—as uncertainty over lockdown restrictions loomed.
In terms of the allocations of spend across industries, 2020 will be a story of two trends. On one hand, digital ad investments (and advertising investments overall, for that matter) in some sectors will decline immensely as a result of those industries facing insurmountable barriers. On the other, the pandemic will allow certain other industries to remain resilient in terms of digital spend, with relatively strong growth forecasts for the year. It comes as no surprise that the automotive and travel industries will experience huge spending declines in 2020. As the UK imposed strict lockdown rules, pretty much all travel was nixed for several months. Investment in digital advertising by these two industries will thus suffer, with spend declining by 20.4% for auto and by 36.7% for travel this year.
The US computing products & consumer electronics industry will be the fastest growing digital ad spender in 2020, increasing its spend by 18.0% in a year when the total US digital ad market will only grow by 1.7%.
Amid 2020’s grim retail environment, ecommerce stands out as a bright spot. By now, the story is well known: US buyers have turned to online retailers like Amazon and Walmart in record numbers, mostly to avoid shopping in crowded places or because their local stores were closed.
While the overall economy has suffered from pandemic-necessitated behavioral changes, some industries have been hit harder than others. We estimate that US retail sales will decline by 10.5% this year, and even though the shift to ecommerce will accelerate digital sales to new heights, retailers will grow their US digital display ad spending by only a sluggish 2.3% this year.
Amid all the handwringing about screen time—plus the demise of Toys "R" Us—one could easily imagine that kids have lost interest in toys. But they haven’t.