Global marketing index shows positive signs going into 2021

After a year of volatility, the signs show the global marketing is picking up with budgets increasing going into the new year although it will take more time to return to previous levels

The global marketing industry grew despite almost a year of decline during the pandemic, according to the WARC Global Marketing Index 2020 review.

The index tracks and analyses current conditions among more than a 1000 marketers, including marketing budgets, trading conditions and staffing levels, accompanied by WARC global advertising spend data.
After a year of coronavirus-related disruption, the WARC review has found three key trends on recovery, budgets and growth predictions.

The global index has found recovery is apparent across most indices in the index as businesses gain confidence in economies across the world. Over the last 12 months, the index has seen the greatest fluctuation in its history.

The Headline Global Marketing Index, a summary of how the marketing industry is faring globally, reflects the volatility of 2020. The year began in slight decline, with a dramatic drop over the first half of the year, reaching an all time low in May at 19.7 as a result of the effects of COVID-19.

Since then, as optimism for an emergence from the pandemic has grown, the index has returned to growth. The year ended with three consecutive months of increased growth rate finishing at 55.4, largely driven by markets across APAC and the Americas, with the pace of recovery slower in Europe.

When it comes to budgets, the index has seen both lifetime high and low values in 2020. The overall index for global marketing budgets mirrored the trends of the Headline Global Marketing Index. For example, budgets reached an all time low of 13.4 in May, but as economies started to recover, by December they were at a value of 57.8, with APAC showing the biggest growth rate. WARC Data forecasts indicate that it will take at least two years for the global advertising market to fully recover.

And when broken down by medium, digital and mobile are the clear drivers of growth from August onwards, driven by the boom in ecommerce as a result of global lockdowns. Digital budgets ended at an index value of 67.4 and mobile at 67.0. 

TV remains a resilient channel. After returning to growth in October, it ended the year on 56.0. Although radio, out-of-home and press budgets have started a slow recovery, the indices for these channels have remained in decline.  

Growth rates are increasing across most indices going into 2021 and the APAC region ended the year with the strongest index levels.

When broken down by region, the GMI indices show the varying confidence levels across the world. APAC's increase in growth rate in the final few months of 2020 was rapid, whereas the Americas showed steadier growth over the second half of the year, with a particularly strong staffing index compared to other regions. Europe only returned to growth at the end of 2020, but is set for further challenges in 2021 as a result of Brexit and the ongoing second wave of COVID-19.

WARC research executive, Zoe McCready, noted the Global Marketing Index trends through 2020 reflect the volatility seen over the past 12 months as advertising budgets were slashed as a result of the global pandemic.

“Yet the possibility of emerging from the pandemic and increasing business adaptation to the 'new normal' has seen all regions come back into growth for 2021, with APAC seeing the biggest increase in growth rate,” said McCready.

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