Programmatic Advertising in the Age of COVID-19: Mobile App Ad Spend Dips 14%; ‘Sports’ Lose 95% but ‘Parenting’ Apps Soar 122%

Pixalate, a global ad fraud intelligence and marketing compliance platform, today announced the release of its latest report, Programmatic Ad Spend in the Age of COVID-19: Mobile App Advertising, an analysis of how U.S. programmatic advertisers reallocated investments in March 2020 in response to the crisis.

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Key Findings: Programmatic mobile in-app ad spend drops 14% in March 2020

  • Mobile ad spend: Mobile in-app ad spend decreased 14% in March
  • Sports apps take a hit: Major sports apps, including ESPN Live Sports and the NBA’s official app, saw a 95%+ hit to programmatic ad spend in March
  • ‘Parenting’ apps take off: Apps in the ‘Parenting’ category on Android saw a 122% rise in programmatic ad spend
  • ‘Food & Drink’ apps rise: Apps in the ‘Food & Drink’ category on iOS saw a 97% increase in programmatic ad spend

These key statistics are based on Pixalate’s research comparing the first full week of March (March 1-7) to the last full week (March 22-28).

ESPN, NBA among apps hit hardest

The report reveals which apps gained or lost the most ad spend (ad transactions) in March 2020, according to Pixalate’s research. Below are some examples of fast-rising and decreasing apps:

  • Apps that saw an increase in ad spend
    • WKYT News (+1,635% increase in ad spend on iOS)
    • Crosswords With Friends (+576% increase in ad spend on iOS)
    • textPlus: Free Text & Calls (+88% increase in ad spend on Android)
  • Apps that saw a decrease in ad spend
    • ESPN: Live Sports & Scores (-99% decrease in ad spend on iOS)
    • NBA: Official App (-95% decrease in ad spend on iOS)
    • Tumblr (-95% decrease in ad spend on Android)

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“Despite the fact consumers are spending more time with media than ever before, our research reveals that advertising demand is not in lockstep with the influx of supply,” said Jalal Nasir, CEO of Pixalate. “However, while overall mobile in-app ad spend fell last month, certain apps and app categories saw significant growth as advertisers altered their media plans.”

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