The global marketing industry suffered disruption and decline in 2020 because of the pandemic, but ended the year with a return to growth, according to an annual review of WARC’s Global Marketing Index (GMI).

WARC’s GMI provides a unique monthly indicator of the state of the global marketing industry, by tracking and analysing current conditions among 1,000+ marketers, including marketing budgets, trading conditions and staffing levels, accompanied by key WARC global advertising spend data. An index value of 50.0 indicates no change, below 50.0 indicates decline and above 50.0 indicates growth.


  • Recovery is apparent across most GMI indices as businesses gain confidence in economies across the world.
  • The GMI saw the greatest fluctuation in its history over the last 12 months, falling to a record low of 19.7 in May. But the GMI has since returned to growth, ending the year at 55.4 largely driven by markets across APAC and the Americas.
  • The index for marketing budgets reached both its lifetime high and low index values in 2020. Budgets reached an all-time low of 13.4 in May, but by December they were at 57.8 with APAC registering the highest growth rate.
  • Digital and mobile budgets, aided by the boom in e-commerce, ended the year with index values of 67.4 and mobile at 67.0 respectively. TV returned to growth in October, ending the year on 56.0. Radio, OOH and press budgets have started to recover slowly, but the indices for these channels have remained in decline.
  • APAC ended the year with the strongest index levels, showing increased rates of growth across most indices going into 2021.

If you currently work for a brand owner, media owner, creative or media agency – or any other organisation serving the marketing industry – then we want you to take part in our panel. The full report is shared with participants.

Key quote

“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” – Zoe McCready, Research Executive at WARC.

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Sourced from WARC