For obvious reasons, the travel category was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic lockdowns in the U.S. and across much of the world.
Let’s hope we’re not headed in that direction again, what with the Delta variant spreading rapidly among the unvaccinated.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share some data that speaks to the travel category’s rebound, in CTV in particular.
To assess COVID’s impacts on CTV, TVSquared analyzed billions of ad impressions across 20 advertiser categories, from January 2020 through May 2021. (At our request, TVSquared kindly updated some of its data through June, to reflect 2021’s full first half.)
For context, let's look first at U.S. impressions for linear TV only, as derived from TVSquared’s ACR technology.
In Q2 2020, U.S. linear travel spots plummeted by 88% in comparison with Q1 2020.
Travel spots were already picking up by the end of 2020: Q4 U.S. linear impressions were up 26% versus Q2 2020.
In Q1 2021, impressions were up 34% versus Q4 2020, and in Q2 2021, they were up 64% versus Q1 2021.
Turning to CTV, although the number of travel advertisers has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, as of May, it was up 30% compared to the average number during the pandemic’s peak months.
In Q1 2021, travel led all other tracked CTV categories in U.S. impressions gains: up 131% versus Q1 2020, according to data from TVSquared’s ADvantage measurement and attribution platform (spanning 65 CTV platforms).
By May of this year, travel — which was not in the top five categories for CTV ad impressions in 2020’s first five months — had entered the top 5:
Through this year’s first full half, U.S. CTV travel impressions were up by 320% versus first-half 2020.
CTV travel ad spend has also been showing strong recovery.
Compared to Q4 2020 — the first quarter that saw a consistent increase in travel CTV ad spend during that unprecedented pandemic year — Q1 2021 spend was up 34%.
For this year's first half, CTV travel ad spend was up 390% versus first-half 2020, and June saw the highest level of CTV spend by travel brands in TVSquared’s history.
Across CTV and linear, categories driving the travel comeback include comparison sites (accounting for 47% of total TV travel airings in April and May), national destinations (29%), hotels (15%), cruises (5%) and airlines (4%).