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Q4 & Full Year Video Benchmarks, AdBridge Insights

At the start of a new decade, digital video advertising continues to evolve and opportunities abound for marketers to deliver their messages. 

Our report, based on aggregate performance metrics for video ads served from ER’s AdBridge, captures data for Q4 and full year 2019. Campaigns for a diverse set of brands across multiple categories are tracked, providing an industry-wide snapshot that identifies trends across performance metrics, such as video ad completion and invalid traffic rates, as well as breakdowns by media destination (premium publisher vs. media aggregator) and device (desktop, mobile, tablet and CTV). In addition, benchmarks specific to Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands are included in the report. 

Premium Is a Safe Bet and Pays Big Dividends
Premium publishers are still preferred, with 81% of all ads served into premium environments in 2019. Advertisers likely want to see and know exactly where their ads will appear, rather than leaving that decision to an algorithm. Are we seeing less programmatic buys taking place? At ER we still serve and measure billions of ads through DSPs, but we’re seeing far fewer impressions served through that channel versus premium direct. CTV remains a hot topic in video advertising with its steady growth, consumer appeal and strong preference for premium publishers. There are multiple factors playing into the hands of premium publishers who will gladly continue accepting payment for their inventory. After all, they’re spending big bucks on competitive, quality programming and as additional streaming services continue to evolve and folks reach for those scissors to cut cords, premium will continue to be…. well, premium.

Media Aggregators Shining Brightly Too, Especially in Key Areas
While the percentage of impressions served to media aggregators has fallen (from 26% in Q4 2018 to 19% in Q4 2019), we see strength for aggregators in a few other areas that are quite significant. Completion rates are a key performance indicator among media buyers, who would like to ensure their ads are being watched all the way through. In the past year, completion rates among media aggregators have risen more than 12%—from 73% in Q4 of 2018 to 82% in Q4 2019. That is a significant jump and it bodes well for all parties as aggregation offers a layer of efficiency and scale for marketers seeking reach and frequency beyond premium direct buys.

Media aggregators have also made some significant improvements in combating invalid traffic. Levels of GIVT in Q4 2019 declined to about 2%, a significant reduction from Q4 2018, when levels were above 5%. General invalid traffic will continue to threaten the integrity of the digital video ecosystem, but there are many levers in place across the ecosystem to filter out invalid impressions and increase buyer confidence.

Steady as She Goes
While big shifts can be notable and interesting, seeing stability in trends over time provides media strategists with new paradigms for planning and a confidence that the media landscape is more predictable than in the early days. 2019 proved to be just that—steady. For now, at least. Beyond the aforementioned areas we’ve pointed out, a lot of metrics remained quite stable throughout 2019 and finished where they started. For instance, the use of 30-second ads, the share of ads served to CTV, average completion rates, average click-through rates and average time spent were all fairly unchanged throughout the year.

The digital video advertising ecosystem certainly keeps us all on our toes. At ER, we are fortunate to serve and measure digital video campaigns through a variety of media outlets and for a diverse cross section of brands. We hope our industry benchmarks provide a healthy mix of metrics that matter to you. 

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.