Mobile video ad spend first to be slashed despite overall APAC spend rising

While mobile ad spend in Asia Pacific increased by 24% post-impact during the week of 25 March and was 14% higher compared to the last week of March 2019, mobile video ads contracted 27%, while display fell 12% after impact. This was because they were the first to be cut from advertising budgets since they are typically sold at a premium. The move came despite mobile video spending expanding at such "breakneck speeds" before the global crisis.

Meanwhile, monetised impressions on mobile in the region were up 13% post-impact and increased 27% compared to March 2019, according to PubMatic’s Quarterly Mobile Index (QMI) report. The report analysed over 15 trillion global advertiser bids flowing each month through its platform.

On the other hand, platform spend for desktop in Asia Pacific only grew 1% post impact and dipped 38% compared to March 2019. Monetised impressions for the platform did not fare well either, dropping 12% post-impact and 42% compared to the same period last year. 

Overall, the report noted that total mobile share of global ad spending reached 51% by the end of the first quarter of 2020 (Q1 2020), up from 48% at the beginning of March before the onset of COVID-19. Also, mobile was less impacted by the pandemic, with ad spend falling 15% post-impact compared to desktop which dipped 25%.

In-app sees jump

In-app content consumption also jumped as a result of the pandemic, with in-app viewership surging above volumes seen during the 2019 holiday season. In China, for example, mobile in-app video streaming rose 20% higher than the weekly average over Q4 2019. Meanwhile, advertisers are seeking more control by shifting budgets into private marketplace (PMP) in-app, away from open market desktop. 

The incremental time spent on mobile devices serves as a boon for PMP since the increase is largely coming from apps.

According to the report, mobile in-app PMP volume jumped 65% during the pandemic while the volume for desktop dipped 20%. In-app volume in the open market also dipped by 15%. 

Also, during the first five weeks after a lockdown in each market, PMP in-app spending roughly doubled, with Asia Pacific seeing a 167% increase, the Americas a 99% increase, and EMEA a 96% jump. According to the report, spending in Asia Pacific is up 277% from its first quarantine in January to the end of the quarter, suggesting further growth ahead in Americas and EMEA if they continue to follow in Asia Pacific’s trajectory.

Publishers optimise monetisation strategise

On the publishers' front, this group continues to adopt header bidding to optimise their monetisation strategy during uncertain times. More than half of publishers in the US (58%) and 47% of those in the UK adopted header bidding in Q1 2020, an increase from the previous quarter. The report said that this is expected to continue to rise into Q2 2020. Overall header bidding ad spend fell 17% over last quarter; however, mobile declined 16% whereas desktop saw a sharper decline of 20%.

PubMatic's SVP of corporate development and GM of mobile, Paulina Klimenko said as the economy recovers, advertising will follow, giving publishers with advanced mobile advertising capabilities an advantage. “While recent surges in viewership will likely recede through the summer and as stay-at-home orders ease, the preference for mobile will remain, which will drive advertisers to mobile over the long term," she added.

Meanwhile, Klimenko said the downturn that the industry is experiencing as a result of COVID-19 presents app-developers with a unique opportunity to review their mobile advertising set-ups to improve upon inefficient auctions and to push for more transparency and accountability with partners.

"To reduce fraud risk inherent in in-app environments, app-developers should also consider the benefits of offering PMP buying to advertisers. Making these improvements now will offer publishers the greatest opportunity for strategic growth in the coming months," she said.

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