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Webinar recap: Pixalate and XUMO discuss programmatic CTV ad trends in 2020

Apr 14, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Pixalate and XUMO recently hosted a webinar to discuss the latest trends in programmatic Connected TV (CTV) advertising in 2020 — and what those trends mean for the future of CTV.

Webinar speakers included:

Full Webinar: Programmatic CTV Trends in 2020


The Reach of Programmatic CTV has skyrocketed

According to Pixalate’s data, by the end of 2020, 78% of U.S. households were reachable via programmatic CTV advertising — up 56% year-over-year.

“[2020] was a very, very big year for expansion in CTV,” said Pixalate’s Scharffs during the webinar.”Not only did we see the growth of reach, but also the growth in ad spend has increased.” 

Global programmatic CTV ad spend increased 97% year-over-year, per Pixalate’s data, including a big spike over the second half of 2020. Scharffs noted that while the COVID-19 pandemic slowed programmatic CTV growth a little in Q220, it did not stop the growth.

“It was still up approximately 10% [in Q2], but the CTV ad market did not regress in Q2 like other markets,” said Scharffs. "And we saw a considerable rebound in the second half of 2020.” 

CTV user engagement increased 250% on XUMO’s app in 2020

Given the big jumps in CTV ad spend and household reach, it’s not a surprise to learn that user engagement on XUMO’s app — one of the leading CTV apps in the world featuring over 300 free channels — also went through a phase of rapid growth in 2020.

According to XUMO, engagement on their app during the COVID-19-related lockdowns was up 250% compared to pre-COVID numbers.

“It pushed a lot of folks into free ad-supported streaming services like XUMO,” said XUMO’s Condon, noting that a few other factors also drove the growth, including "the adoption of streaming in general [and] the adoption of different devices like Roku, Amazon, or, more importantly, Smart TVs.”

Ad fraud is real in CTV, but there are ways to reduce the risk

According to Pixalate’s data sets, which consist predominately of open auction programmatic traffic sources, programmatic CTV ad fraud rates were between 19% and 24% throughout 2020.

This means that as CTV ad spend skyrocketed, scammers watched their bank accounts grow in lockstep. 

Multiple CTV ad fraud schemes were uncovered last year, including the Monarch and DiCaprio discoveries made by Pixalate’s research team. These schemes depict the various ways in which scammers are attacking the booming CTV space.

But there are positive signs as well. For one, Pixalate’s data revealed that 80% of the top 500 apps in the Roku Channel Store (based on programmatic ad sales, as measured by Pixalate) had adopted the IAB’s app-ads.txt initiative by the end of 2020, which aims to increase transparency and reduce ad fraud.

Also, companies like XUMO meet the issue of ad fraud head-on and can reduce risk as a result. 

“With any business, you have to work with accredited partners. You have to work with ... companies that take it seriously like we do, [companies] that have a partner like Pixalate,” said XUMO’s Condon. “You need to know what you’re buying. The transparency piece, to us, is extremely important.”

Condon spelled out the three basic steps XUMO takes to maintain quality:

  1. Transparency: You know who you’re doing business with
  2. Relationships: Leverage direct relationships, ideally via private programmatic marketplaces
  3. Verify: Don’t just take someone’s word for it — work with an MRC-accredited measurement company to verify

The CTV distribution turf wars are heating up — especially among Smart TVs

Pixalate’s data shows that 46% of programmatic CTV ads went to Roku devices in Q420, by far the largest market share of all CTV device manufactures.

However, device manufacturers are ramping up their efforts to earn a bigger slice of the pie. That is especially true for Smart TV makers.

“When Smart TVs first came out, they weren’t particularly smart,” said Condon. “People were sleeping on Smart TVs for the longest time, and now they are not. The growth has been tremendous. They have invested in the operating system, the experience, and partnerships.”

A new report from Hub Entertainment Research shows that Smart TVs are now in 70% of U.S. homes, per MediaPost

Watch the whole webinar and download the 2020 CTV Trends Report for more

Watch the whole webinar on YouTube or embedded in our blog above to learn more.

Pixalate’s Q4 2020 Connected TV Ad Supply Trends Report also contains more data on the latest state of programmatic CTV advertising.

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