Canada could lag behind in travel industry’s adspend recovery

A new report from Zenith shows pre-pandemic spending will be reached by 2023, but it won't be spread evenly across markets.

While ad spending across other categories has begun a return to normalcy, one industry that hasn’t managed to come back from its much deeper decline is travel. But new forecasts show that it will get there, thanks to a much more pronounced rate of recovery.

The latest ad spending forecasts from Zenith looked at the travel industry in 13 key markets, which includes Canada, as well India, Russia, China, Poland, U.S., Germany, Switzerland, Italy, U.K., Australia, Spain and France, which account for 74% of global adspend.

The agency forecasts that spending will have grown 24% year-over-year in those markets by the time 2021 is out, with further 36% growth in 2022 and 19% in 2023.

That growth is two to six times faster than the rest of the ad market, depending on the year, but that still puts the travel industry back to the spending levels it has pre-pandemic. That’s because it has a much deeper hole to dig out of: while the total ad market declined by 3.6% in 2020, travel spending declined by 46.1%.

However, that growth is not going to be spread evenly across all markets. Zenith forecasts it will largely be driven by big boosts from the likes of India, Russia, U.S. and China. Spending in Canada, on the other hand, is expected to still have an average annual decline of 5.1% by 2023.

By 2023, 70% of ad spending in travel is expected to be done through digital channels, compared to 63% of budgets being allocated there now. The travel industry has always been more digital-heavy compared to other industries (58%), but the further integration of things like travel and discount apps to encourage travel, as well as with vaccine passport and platforms that guide travelers through ongoing COVID-19 regulations, are expected to further this trend.

But digital is not the only platform Zenith expects will have a positive annual average growth in adspending for the next three years. Cinema and OOH spending is expected to grow by 16.5% and 5.9%, respectively, even as spending from other sectors on the mediums is expected to decline. Spending on TV and radio, however, is expected to decline at a greater rate than other sectors. Travel spending on magazines is expected to be down as well, although not to the same degree as other sectors, while declines is newspaper spending is expected to roughly match the rest of the market.