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CTV Share of Total Video Ad Impressions Drops to Lowest Point in Two Years as COVID-19 Initially Drives Massive Changes in Media Consumption, Shows Report from Extreme Reach

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Q1 2020 Video Benchmarks show anomalies in previous steady trends, though new data for April and May to-date reveal a rapid rise in CTV share of impressions back to the dominant levels pre-pandemic

Video ad impressions on connected TV (CTV) platforms dropped to 37 percent of all ad impressions in Q1 2020, a decline of over 21 percent from Q4 2019, reveals the latest Video Benchmarks Report from Extreme Reach (ER), the complete asset management solution for TV and video ads. But while the sudden CTV share decline observed in aggregate metrics from ER’s AdBridge™ platform for the 2020 period ending March 31 was the lowest percentage since Q1 2018, analysis of the data since this then shows a rapid return to more “normal” levels, with CTV share up to 42 percent for April 15 – May 11.

To explore whether this rapid, dramatic change may be correlated to the impact that COVID-19-driven stay-at-home orders have had on consumers’ media viewing behavior, ER also looked at monthly averages for both Q4 2019 and Q1 2020 and distinct periods in April and May. These metrics show that after a highpoint of 48 percent share of impressions in December 2019, the CTV share of total impressions saw a decline to 41 percent in January followed by a drop to 35 percent in February, then a slight increase in March to 36 percent. In the first two weeks of April, CTV share fell to 29 percent but rose rapidly after that, reaching 42 percent by May 11.

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While it’s too early to fully understand the long-term effects of the pandemic on media consumption, ER’s data certainly illustrates the volatility brought on by the COVID-19 situation.

Additional Q1 (January-March) findings in the report include:

  • Desktop gained share of impressions as audiences work and study from home: Clearly the beneficiary of CTV’s losses, desktop impressions, which have declined nearly every quarter for the past three years, rose 44 percent from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020. The jump, which brought the proportion back to nearly one quarter of all impressions, may be the result of the increased amount of time that audiences are spending on their larger computer screens as they work and study at home.
  • Mobile and tablet devices gained share lost by CTV: Likely a result of independent viewing among members of multi-person households, impressions from both mobile and tablet devices increased. 32 percent of impressions were served to mobile in Q1, while 5 percent went to tablet.
  • Premium publishers remain dominant, but ER sees increase in aggregator impressions: In Q1 2020, 78 percent of video ad impressions were served into premium environments. While this is still the majority, the decline from Q4 2019 means more impressions are being served via media aggregators. Perhaps with the uncertainty driving advertiser demand down, inventory previously only available via premium direct is now being sold on programmatic exchanges.
  • Impressions for 30-second ads reach new heights: In Q1 2020, impressions for 30-second ads hit 77 percent of the total, an 11 percent jump over the previous high of 69 percent in Q4 2019. At the same time, 15-second ads continued to decline, possibly indicating that, despite the significant shift back to mobile viewing, audiences are still consuming longer-form content.
  • Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands’ inventory mix reflects accelerated pace of change: While DTC brands continue to favor advertising in premium media environments at a rate higher than overall video advertisers, the difference in proportion is narrowing at an accelerated pace. In Q1, 12 percent of impressions were served through media aggregators, up from less than 1 percent in Q1 2019 and double the proportion in Q4 2019.

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“After seeing our benchmarks throughout 2019 point toward the industry’s stabilization around a CTV-driven future, the first quarter of 2020 reveals big changes that we surmise are a result of the unprecedented global health crisis,” said Mary Vestewig, ER’s Senior Director, Video Account Management. “That said, we are almost halfway through the second quarter, and now we are seeing a rapid rise in CTV share of impressions that suggests a return to a level of consistency indicative of a new normal.”

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