ATV In-App Outperformed Web Ad Impressions In 2020, For First Time

Last year marked the first time that advanced TV (ATV) in-app ad impressions outperformed web impressions, according to a Google Ad Manager analysis of 2020 ATV ad inventory using its own internal data.

Globally, across all device types, including connected TVs, in-app ad impressions grew 90% year-over-year, compared to 35% growth for web viewership (chart above).

This reflects a growing number of people watching advanced TV content on OTT streaming apps, rather than desktop or mobile web, as they adopt new CTV devices, Google confirms. 

CTV devices represented the largest share of ad impressions globally in 2020, although device preferences vary by region. 

In both North America and EMEA, CTV devices represent the largest share of viewership. In APAC and LATAM, CTV doesn’t represent the largest share of impressions, but is still the fastest-growing type of device.




Google Ad Manager’s data also confirms that ATV advertising recovered over the course of 2020 after a hit in Q2; that traditional inventory transactions still heavily dominate, but programmatic is growing rapidly; and that live impressions grew faster than video-on-demand last year, despite shutdowns of sports and other live events. 

Here’s a closer look at key trends. 

Transaction Trends 

Traditional ATV deals made directly between TV companies and advertisers still dominate — representing more than 80% of all global impressions in Q4 2020. 

But the fastest-growing transaction types year-over-year were programmatic. In Q4, programmatic impressions grew by more than 70%.


Looking at programmatic ad exchange transaction types, direct one-to-one deals with fixed prices — including both guaranteed-volume and preferred, non-guaranteed volume deals — continued to lead in 2020.

In Q4, programmatic guaranteed and preferred deals accounted for more than 70% of programmatic ad impressions sold in ad exchange, led by 165% year-over-year growth for preferred and 90% for guaranteed.


The trends are driven in part by an increase in advertisers converging TV and digital budgets, and more programmatic direct deals powering TV upfronts, according to Google.

ATV Advertising Dipped, Then Recovered, Over 2020

The Google data show global ATV ad impressions dipping 18% year-over-year during the height of the pandemic in Q2.

Traditional buys dropped by 35%, although programmatic buys were essentially flat (-1%). Driven in part by overall TV viewership growth during the pandemic, CTV was the only device seeing impression growth during the quarter: up 14%. 

By Q3, live sports were returning, driving a 70% jump in live programming and a lift in ATV ad impressions, which were up  40% compared to Q2. 

Traditional buys rose by 55% in Q3 versus Q2, and programmatic ad impressions grew 55%.

By Q4, global ad impressions were up 60% year-over-year, with CTV dominating. 

Livestreaming Uptrends

As live sports began to return mid-year, live impressions grew much faster than VOD impressions. CTV viewers who livestreamed at home preferred to watch on the big screen.

VOD still represents 55% of TV ad impressions seen on digital devices, but live viewership is growing.

In Q4, global ad impressions served to live audiences leapt 85%, and 45% of ads served in live content were seen via CTV —suggesting that people prefer to livestream from their living rooms.

CTV accounted for 35% of VOD ad impressions. Fewer than 40% of VOD ad impressions were watched on mobile devices.

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