As Attention Moves To CTV, 59% Of Buyers Are Increasing Their CTV Budgets This Year

CTV OTT ad spending
As buyers return to the ad marketplace, they’re concentrating their spend in digital advertising, especially connected TV (CTV), according to an IAB survey of 148 buyers conducted in early June.

Overall, 59% of respondents said they planned to increase their CTV/OTT budgets in the second half of 2020 compared to the previous year, the highest percentage out of all digital and traditional channels. A further 56% will increase their digital video budgets in the second half of the year compared to 2019.

The amount of these budget increases can be significant: Agencies plan to up their OTT/CTV spending by 46% compared to 2019, while brands said they expected to boost budgets by 32%.

“Dollars have always followed attention,” said IAB President David Cohen. “We have seen [dollars] slowly move, and now rapidly accelerate. This is a moment in time where dollars are moving commensurate with where attention is going.”

Overall, buyers expected digital ad spending to increase by 13% in the second half of the year compared to the prior year. But overall ad spending by brands will decline 20%, according to survey respondents.

That means digital channels are increasing while brands cut more from traditional channels.

When the IAB examined large brands that responded to the survey, half said they would spend about the same in 2020 as they did in 2019. Another 26% of big brands said they would increase their budgets, while 23% planned declines.

Linear TV’s upfront marketplace remains stable

TV overall remains strong through the pandemic.

Twenty-two percent of buyers plan to increase their linear TV budgets in the second half of the year compared to the prior year, the most of any traditional channels, which also includes radio, direct mail, print and out of home. Buyers expect that their linear TV budgets would remain unchanged for Q3 and then decline just 6% in Q4, the softest decline of the traditional channels.

Though the ANA called last week for TV networks to delay their upfronts, buyers have largely followed the TV networks’ timeline so far, according to the survey.

One-third of buyers said they expected to follow the upfront schedule, which is in line with prior levels. Though 29% of buyers said they bought on the scatter market historically, that number increased slightly to 32% for the 2020-2021 season. And the 37% of buyers that said they historically bought on a calendar year decreased to 36%.

“We were surprised at how remarkably stable the breakdown of the upfronts appears,” Cohen said. He expected more money to move to later in the year because of the uncertainty created by the pandemic.

“I don’t have a good hypothesis as to why that is happening, other than buyers hearing that others are moving in the marketplace and not wanting to lose the opportunity to buy,” he offered.

Continued uncertainty

Despite entering the upfront market, buyers said their 2021 budgets were far from finalized. Fifty-eight percent of ad buyers were unsure or very unsure about their 2021 budgets. Plus, 51% remain unsure or very unsure about their budgets for the rest of 2020. Having so many buyers sit on the fence for so long – as illustrated in several of the IAB’s post-pandemic surveys – strikes IAB SVP of research Sue Hogan as notable.

“We are still in a time of flux,” she said.

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