Some Signs of Digital Media Recovery…for Now

IAB Canada’s Latest Assessment of COVID-19 Impact on Digital Spend in Late 2020 & Early 2021

Planning for 2021 has already begun as the COVID-19 crisis continues. While discussions mount around re-opening the economy in the face of rising Covid incidence and we speculate on how the next months will look, IAB Canada is continuing to track the impact COVID-19 is having on Canadian digital ad investments thus far, plus respondents’ expectations for Q4, 2020, Q1 2021 and further out in time. Wave 6 is our sixth quick snapshot, based on the latest barometer survey of IAB Canada agency and marketer members.

Once again, the sample predominantly consists of agency personnel, who report ongoing negative spending impacts and a prognosis of a long road to full recovery. Following are some additional highlights noted during this week’s Community Uninterrupted presentation:

  • Over 6 in 10 of respondents again advise that client digital spends are negatively affected, down from the last wave.
  • Cash flow and consumer trends continue to lead the list of factors impacting digital spends in Canada.
  • Reports of reduced spending were stable after rising over previous waves, but fewer respondents identified ‘delayed/shifted to later dates or temporarily paused’ this time. Not surprising at this late stage of 2020.
  • Programmatic Display continues to be the most negatively impacted ad format followed in this wave by Display-Site Direct.
  • Media/Entertainment, Travel and Auto are again the top-3 ad categories with reported spend reductions, while growth is cited by some for Consumer Packaged Goods, Government, Fashion & Apparel as well as Pharma & Healthcare.
  • eCommerce enabled brands continue less affected by Covid-19, according to three-quarters of respondents
  • CPMs and CPCs remain reportedly down in this lower spending environment for over one-third of respondents, translating into lower campaign costs.
  • Weekly and some daily digital budget reviews are still being conducted by 4-in-10 respondents, despite a shift towards ‘less often/business as usual’ frequency since the previous wave.
  • Almost one-third now claim to be loosening their restrictions on blocking advertising in/adjacent to ‘hard news’

While the reporting indicates some areas of positivity, five-in-ten still anticipate more spend reductions in Q4, 2020 and almost six-in-ten for Q1, 2021. Expectations for a full recovery continue to focus on 2nd-half of 2021 or later.

IAB Canada will continue to provide reporting as Canada moves into recovery from lockdown.