In 2020, the advertising market experienced an unprecedented crisis

Pandemic requires, the advertising market in France has experienced a sharp decline in 2020 according to the unified barometer of the advertising market (BUMP) published on March 16. Almost no segment has managed to withstand the crisis, apart from digital, which barely saves the market with a modest + 0.5% in advertising spending. An unprecedented drop in 25 years, even at the height of the 2008 economic crisis.

Almost all sectors have been affected

While in 2019, the advertising market grew by + 2.6% thanks to revenues amounting to 15.062 billion euros, it collapsed in 2020. Marked by the many containment measures as well as by the regulations put in place to promote physical distancing, advertising revenue fell to 13.337 billion euros, a decrease of -11.4% compared to 2019. This sum takes into account the revenue of television, radio, the press, outdoor advertising (including revenues from digital platforms of these media), cinema, directories, unaddressed printed matter, and advertising mail. On the web side, search, display and social are also included. In total, the market recruited 60,809 advertisers across all media, a sharp drop of -9% compared to 2019.

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Graph showing the history of advertising spend over 25 years.

The pandemic has led to a historic fall in advertising spending in 2020. Unheard of in 25 years. Source: IREP

Although some media have resisted better than others, almost none have been spared by the pandemic. As the French are confined to their homes, it is logically television which experiences the smallest drop with -11%. More surprisingly, however, this medium has nevertheless recruited + 4%, which has notably benefited the free national channels. Distributed media such as the press (-23.7%), directories (-23.1%) or advertising mail (-19.5%) have inevitably unscrewed. Outdoor advertising, which has had several complicated months, is down by -31%, whereas in 2019 it posted a fine performance of + 3.6%. But it is the cinema that has been impacted the most with the closing of theaters, causing a dizzying drop in its revenues of -74.9%. Only digital (display, search, emailing and digital media) succeeds in doing well thanks to a phenomenon of transfer of other media on this medium, including events (+ 0.5% for 6.8 billion revenue ).

Graph showing the decrease in advertising investments in 2020

Only digital is managing to do well in 2020. Source: IREP

However, the crisis did not only make unfortunate people and some advertisers took the opportunity to increase their budgets. This is particularly the case for services with a sharp increase in communications for home delivery platforms, dating sites, telecommunications which have strongly highlighted their internet offers or SVOD services. The environmental awareness of consumers has meanwhile pushed advertisers to invest in advertising focused on more “green” products: the electric car (+ 7%), organic products (+ 5%), green brands or anti-waste, as well as in the expansion of the second-hand market with brands such as Vinted, ShowroomPrivé or Backmarket.

An increase expected in 2021

On the losing side (and this is not very surprising), it is the services closed to the public that have unscrewed. The restriction of travel led to a decline in the travel and tourism sectors of -32.4%. With theaters, cinemas and restaurants closed, the culture and leisure sector recorded a drop of -36.4%. Finally, personal and business services, banking / insurance and information / media, although having succeeded in containing their decline, all the same recorded a drop of between -10 and -12%.

According to the study, the 2021 advertising communication market should be marked by a return to growth for media severely damaged during the pandemic: “In 2021, all five media + digital media will grow by + 11.3% and will reach the level reached in 2019 (i.e. € 15.3 million)”. However, one thing is certain: there will be a before and an after pandemic. Consumers have indeed learned to buy differently, which implies a review of advertising spending, while advertisers await the lifting of health measures affecting certain sectors with the greatest impatience.

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