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Q2 2019 Video Benchmarks, AdBridge Insights

If there’s a line that separates a market trend from a wholesale transformation, it looks as though connected television (CTV) has just crossed it. This Q2 report, based on video ads served from AdBridge™  for a range of advertisers across multiple categories, shows that CTV now accounts for half of all video ad impressions, marking the fifth consecutive quarter that CTV has outranked mobile in the number of impressions served by device.

While much of CTV’s growth has been attributed to cord-cutters, the truth is that CTV is rapidly becoming just another way to watch content for everyone. Sure, there’s the cord-free sub-group of viewers who only watch via over-the-top (OTT) or connected TV devices, but of the 70% of today’s U.S. OTT subscribers, 65% still have an active linear connection. In a content everywhere world, it’s important for advertisers to note that consumer viewing trends and this quarter’s results underscore how viewers continue to want their video wherever, whenever, however and over as many devices as they choose.

That’s one of the broad implications from this new report that tracks ad performance trends through a range of metrics, including video ad completion and viewability rates, as well as general invalid traffic and time spent. Our data also provides breakdowns related to these numbers based on advertiser purchase method (i.e., premium publisher vs. media aggregator) and targeted device (i.e., desktop, mobile, tablet and connected television [CTV]).

New in Q2 are metrics for two specific advertising categories: automotive and direct-to-consumer (DTC), both of which can be viewed as bellwethers for advertising’s next innovations and therefore are important to observe separate from, and in comparison to, the broader group of overall advertisers. We look forward to expanding our insights to additional advertising verticals in the future.

So it’s interesting to note that while the number of impressions served by CTV reached that significant 50% milestone, the number actually decreased in the auto vertical by nearly 30% while mobile impressions doubled. The report that follows includes speculation as to why auto would deviate so significantly.

The preference for premium is another trend that we’ve detailed throughout the last year of Video Benchmark reports but the new metrics provide interesting texture. Impressions for DTC video ads are served nearly entirely (99.8%) to premium publishers. Among auto advertisers, however, the percent of impressions served to premium sites declined by 27% while those served to aggregator sites increased by 51%. Insights into what this may signal for the future follow in the full report.

Metrics on ad length are significant as well. The data show that 30-second ads continued to dominate in Q2 despite a 7% drop from Q1 that put the category at 64%. In the same Q1 to Q2 period, 15-second ads saw a significant 20% rise in impressions. The year-over-year figures were notably different, however, with 15-second ads decreasing by 24% and 30-second spots increasing by 19%. 6-second ads saw a slight decline (7%) YoY and a nearly 60% rise for Q2.

Ultimately, this quarter’s numbers suggest that we’re not just tracking a new digital marketing category, but witnessing the emergence of a major turning point in the advertising landscape. OTT ad revenue grew 73% between 2017 and 2018 and is projected to spike an additional 25% this year. In dollars, this translates into a doubling of ad revenue between 2017 and 2018 from $1.2 to $2.6 billion.

But it’s not just brand investment that’s heralding the ascendance of CTV. Brands will go wherever consumers go and consumers are eating up the explosion of content options emerging as media companies and tech giants fall over themselves to get into the market. AT&T, with its acquisition of Time Warner, is a prime example given its investment in streaming property WarnerMedia. Apple has launched Apple TV+, Disney has established Disney+ and NBC recently announced the coming launch of its streaming platform, Peacock. Apple. Disney. AT&T. NBC. Need we say more about the significance of the shift?

Download the full report, which also gives you access to our trend file that provides a snapshot of quarterly metrics dating back to Q1 2016.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what our benchmarks reveal about trends in the industry and any insights that you’d like to share. Feel free to get in touch at [email protected].