Data marketing spend tops $29B in US as cookie deadline looms

Winterberry Group’s assessment of the media landscape is the latest to underpin a remarkable ad market rebound last year in the wake of a grim 2020. Tactically, the industry is shifting focus from an impressions-based approach to one more centered around outcomes, as evidenced by the strength of channels that skew toward performance marketing.



  • U.S. ad spending reached $436.3 billion in 2021, a 21.6% year-on-year increase over pandemic-recessed 2020 and the strongest performance for the sector in the last decade, according to the latest annual assessment by Winterberry Group. The management consultancy forecasts growth of 11.8% to $487.8 billion in 2022.
  • Data-related spending encompassing identity, analytics, measurement and attribution jumped 26% YoY to $29.3 billion in 2021. With the pending deprecation of cookies and changes to mobile identifiers, Winterberry Group expects the category to gain another 13% this year. Investments will funnel toward first-party data collection, adoption of data management and clean room solutions and a rebound in direct mail for third-party data acquisition.
  • Data-related tactics as a percentage of total media spend will grow from 11.6% in 2021 to 12.3% in 2022, Winterberry Group said. Other overindexing areas include retail media marketing, which doubled from $20 billion in 2020 to $40 billion last year, experiential marketing and connected TV marketing.


Retail media has become a hot item as a result of these disruptions, seeing its spend double between 2020 and 2021, per Winterberry Group. Brands including Walmart, Target, Kroger and CVS have quickly built out advertising networks that tap into their in-store and online shopper data as they look to court the dollars of packaged goods marketers that don’t own the point of sale.

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