- The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the shift in media buying to mobile from desktop platforms as consumers spend more time on their phones. While the volume of viewer impressions on desktop computers fell since the start of the health crisis, it remained steady for mobile devices, per an announcement that sell-side platform (SSP) PubMatic shared with Mobile Marketer.
- While ad spending declined for all digital platforms, the effect on mobile sites was less dramatic. Mobile ad spend fell 15% after the pandemic ramped up in the U.S. in March, compared with a 25% drop for desktop ad spending. The difference boosted the mobile share of ad spending to 51% worldwide by the end of Q1 from 48% at the beginning of March, per PubMatic.
- Mobile video ad spending dropped 27% during the pandemic, compared with the 12% dip for mobile display ads, because advertisers tended to slash more expensive ad formats. PubMatic, which sells programmatic ad inventory for publishers, featured the findings in its Q1 2020 Quarterly Mobile Index report. The company analyzed more than 15 trillion bids a month from advertisers for its study, per its announcement.
Advertisers need to be where their customers are, and PubMatic's data suggest those viewers are on their mobile devices during the pandemic. The company predicts that those audience preferences will remain, even as many regions lift lockdowns and recent surges in digital viewership among homebound consumers recede throughout the summer. As businesses reopen and the economy begins to recover, the company recommends marketers adjust their digital media spending toward mobile platforms to reach consumers cautiously on the go.
While the drop in spending on mobile video ads was deeper than for display ads during the pandemic, the effect was less dramatic for the entire quarter because mobile video had expanded quickly before the crisis, per PubMatic. It's unclear how quickly spending on mobile video will recover, though there may be opportunities for some industries to boost their ad spending on video as lockdowns end and promotional activity picks up.
Likewise, digital video ad spending in the U.S. could drop as much as 5.2% year-over-year in the first half of 2020, according to a revised forecast from eMarketer, even though the category still has the potential to post gains of as much as 7.8%. However, any growth would be modest compared to the firm's pre-pandemic projections, at around $3 billion to $5 billion less than initially expected.
Still, after weeks of cuts to media budgets during the pandemic, 26% of advertisers surveyed April 16-20 said they expect to boost ad spend by June 30, per a report from Advertiser Perceptions. More than half (52%) of advertisers expect to spend more this summer, including 18% in July, 15% in August and 19% in September. Only 5% of advertisers said they won't increase ad spend until Q1 2021, the study found.