What Does Digital Advertising Look Like Post-COVID?

Post on May 28, 2020 by Brittany Lefave

Brittany Lefave Ad Solutions Manager, Australia & New Zealand Ad Solutions

Our current climate is a unique one and we are all experiencing a wave of turbulent changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are so many ways each and every one of us are being impacted and each experience is different. The economic impact of COVID-19 has been different for countries, cities, and industry sectors.

Since early March the PubMatic team have been monitoring the impact on global digital ad spend. There is no doubt that our industry has been significantly affected, and rapidly too. By mid-March global ad spend had declined as many of the globe’s largest economies reacted to the threat of the pandemic. But the declines weren’t uniform – we saw wide variances by advertiser category. Initially Travel, Sport and Science categories showed the largest declines, whilst News, Hobbies & Interest and Technology & Computing saw distinct increases.

We’ve seen these trends change over time in line with changing consumer behaviour – as we approached the end of April, we began seeing categories such as Law, Government & Politics, Sports (eSports), Pets, Careers and Home & Garden increasing, whilst Travel and Automotive continued to decline, and after an initial uptick so too did Education.

Region wide trends show America and EMEA were initially the most affected by decreases in ad spend both seeing -32 per cent declines over a six-week period from 1st March to 15th April. While APAC saw a more moderate decline of -15 per cent.

In Australia the top categories look a bit different than what we have been seeing globally. The top 10 categories by spend have been Personal Finance, Technology & Computing, Hobbies & Interests, Shopping, Business, Food & Drink, Arts & Entertainment and Health & Fitness.

Worldwide ad spend is starting to see a recovery but what does the digital landscape look like post- COVID-19? There will be a much larger online advertising opportunity; behaviours have changed during the course of the pandemic and more transactions are happening online. Services which traditionally were focused on in-person experiences are now moving online – such as fitness, telehealth and counselling services. Take-away services, although not a new concept, have been altered by establishments offering playlists and wine pairings to enhance your dining experience at home.

People have more time to focus on themselves (at least those without kids!), resulting in more people leaning into free content such as blogs, webinars, podcasts and online videos. People are growing accustomed to the vast range of free content and coupled with increased pressure on household finances as a result of the economic slowdown, we’re anticipating a surge in consumers accessing AVOD supported streaming services rather than traditional SVOD or subscription services.

What does the SSP landscape look like after a pandemic? A trend we saw emerge even prior to COVID-19 was the use of fewer SSPs and the consolidation to a few trusted supply partners. There have been many reasons brand safety remains a top priority as does ensuring compliance with data and privacy legislations. This provides a unique opportunity for ad tech providers to enhance and diversify their offering to keep up with the buyer and publisher needs.

Although we’re not over the impact of COVID-19, overall restrictions from the pandemic seem to be easing, and the implications are becoming more clear giving us optimism for a different but more normalised future.

Whilst the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for some time to come, we are starting to see the signs of recovery. And as with all periods of great change, the opportunity for innovation and to build something better than we had before means that some good may yet come out of this crisis.


Originally published in B&T Magazine