Did Video Eat Programmatic's Lunch? Is GDPR To Blame?

As we prepare for the final day of the third quarter, the figures are in for video advertising during the second quarter, and it would appear to have been a very good quarter -- quite possibly at the expense of programmatic display.

According to figures from Comcast's FreeWheel, premium video ad viewing was up more than a fifth in the second quarter, compared to the same period the year before. Interestingly, this contrasts with programmatic. The researchers behind the figures point to figures that suggest programmatic display dropped by 25% to 40% across Europe in the quarter as a result of concerns surrounding GDPR.

indeed, direct deals are on the up in video by 42%, to now account for nearly nine in ten spots sold, at 88%. It's pretty easy to see why FreeWheel is making the connection between video going up and GDPR seeing programmatic going down when one considers that the vast majority of these premium video spots are being bought directly. 

As one can imagine, premium video ad viewing saw huge leaps on set-top boxes through OTT streamers and on mobile devices which grew, respectively, by 21%, 41% and 46% compared to the same period last year.

The big elephant in the room here is, of course, the football World Cup, the researchers point out. It's worth pointing out that the month-long competition was only halfway through by the end of June -- although, having said that, the first half of the competition would have seen more games, and so advertising opportunities, compared to the latter half. So it's almost certain that the world's biggest football tournament, that is watched religiously across Europe, would have led to a swell in viewing figures and opportunities to reach football fans through premium video.

In fact, there's an extra sign that World Cup was at play because nearly a third of premium video ads were viewed on a large screen -- the preferred choice of a sports fan streaming or catching up with the day's big game.

It will be interesting to see where the current and last quarter of the year takes us. By autumn and then holiday shopping season, one can presume that programmatic will have recovered from any GDPR jitters and the quadrennial boost from the World Cup will have been removed.

The truly interesting part for all marketers? When it comes to premium, there is a growing trend to go direct. We can see this in display through the country's leading news organisations banding together to allow direct sales across multiple well-known titles. 

Despite Integral Ad Science figures out this week showing low fraud levels and high viewability figures for direct and programmatic campaigns, there seems to be a weight of momentum connecting premium publishers with premium advertisers directly.

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