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IAB: US digital video ad spend, driven by CTV, to form 56% of total video in 2021

‘A bellwether moment in media’: Digital, driven by CTV, to comprise 56% of video spend in 2021

US digital video advertising continued to boom in 2021, fueled by a surge of interest and inventory in the connected TV (CTV) space, according to research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a leading digital advertising body.

The digital video category is comprised of CTV, desktop and mobile video. CTV reached new heights with 22% growth year-on-year. Of the 350 marketer and agency executives quizzed, average CTV spend sat just shy of $20m, digital desktop was up 3% to $17.56m and mobile up 4% to $17.55m.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of CTV buyers said they shifted budget from broadcast and cable to CTV in 2021. More than a third (35%) of buyers expect to increase CTV video ad spending in 2021.

Eric John, vice president of IAB Media Center, called it a “bellwether moment in media” and credited the “movement to more audience-based buying approaches” to increased buyer demand for CTV.

Why buy CTV?

Last week The Drum quizzed media buyers about what’s so attractive to them about CTV inventory – and while it is clear there is still a lot of ground to make up on more established formats, the ability to serve the full marketing funnel in a TV environment carries a clear advantage.

The research said 60% of advertisers thought CTV provided ‘a trusted, brand-safe environment’. 46% cited targeting as a key benefit, although marketers must remember the TV is often a shared screen – they’re targeting households, not individuals, most of the time.

With the coming demise of third-party cookies and confusion about the efficacy of any new approaches, marketers are looking to reinstate their consumer vision. More than three-quarters of advertisers claimed ‘robust first-party data’ is important when selecting video partners. That will be the key differentiator in who pulls ahead in the space, which by all accounts is a battleground to become the defacto operating system controlling CTVs.

But what categories will spend?

Buyers are optimistic for health and wellness (+144%), finance (+97%), travel (+92%), telecom (+71%), and media and entertainment (+48%). It’s worth noting that in mobile, health and wellness is projected for +181% and fashion/apparel +81%.

“Viewers have come to expect optimized video experiences. The days of dog-owner households seeing cat food ads are ending, even on the big screen,” said John. Streaming video is now at the “big kids’ table”, he added.

From late April until early May, The Drum is taking a deep dive into what’s in store for the small screen as we launch our Future of TV hub. Sign up for The Drum’s Future of Media briefing here.

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