Advertising Top Stories
2 mins read

“Programmatic is on the rise,” with ad spend returning to pre-pandemic levels

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Programmatic ad spend is now returning to its pre-pandemic “normal” levels, according to data from MediaRadar.

The number of advertisers running programmatic ads through the end of July is up 36% since January, and total programmatic spend between April and July is up 11% year-over-year.

According to the study, while large advertisers may be pulling back dollars, small advertisers are piling into programmatic as they hope for data-driven targeting strategies.

“Due to its efficiency and effectiveness, programmatic has performed well amid the pandemic,” the report notes. “Initially, programmatic was the first advertising channel to be hit hard because brands could pause campaigns immediately—but its flexibility allowed it to rebound.”

The types of companies buying programmatic ads shifted in Q2 compared to Q1. The turnaround is thanks to significant investment from technology, education and media advertisers, and despite continued declines in spend from the travel sector.

In other words, industries that benefited from social distancing are spending more, while industries experiencing economic downturn are holding onto their cash.

Education and training brand spending increased significantly as colleges went online and professional training services, like Udemy, increased their spend by 163%.

The study found that “Industries are adjusting their programmatic spend differently—but programmatic is on the rise on the whole.” 

83% of brands are now allotting a percentage of their overall ad budgets to programmatic spending, up from 76% in January 2019.

Brands are using programmatic more frequently to reach consumers who are spending more time inside and online, according to a statement by Scott Tieman, global head of programmatic services at Accenture Interactive. The changes brought on by the pandemic and the impact on ad tech could be long-lasting, he underscores. 

“As the industry braces for the loss of third-party cookies and audience identifiers, direct engagement in programmatic advertising matters more than ever,” said VP and head of the IAB Programmatic+Data Center Orchid Richardson. 

The programmatic industry is expected to reach $98 billion in ad spend by 2021, making up 68% of digital media advertising, according to a report from Zenith cited by IAB. Programmatic is projected to account for 86.5% of total display ad spend by 2021, predicts eMarketer.

Now that many marketers have adapted their creative campaigns to stay-at-home life, spend is again flowing through programmatic channels.

Andrew Blustein, Programmatic Reporter at Adweek