Premium Video Ad Views, Audience-Based Targeting See Strong 1H Growth

Despite lingering economic concerns, the expansion of hybrid ad-supported/ad-free models helped spur healthy 6% year-over-year growth in premium video ad views in the U.S. in first-half 2023, according to FreeWheel’s latest Video Marketplace Report.

Connected TV ad views grew by 11% in the U.S., while mobile views grew 19%.  

The first half was also marked by 80% growth in use of audience-based targeting in premium video ads in the U.S., the Comcast-owned ad-tech company reports.

Looking at ad views, Europe saw even higher growth — 15% — translating to combined average U.S./European growth of 9%.

Large-screen viewing continues to dominate in the U.S., with connected TV accounting for 76% of ad views and set-top box (STB) platforms another 5%. Just 13% of ad views originate on mobile in the U.S., and 6% on desktop.



In contrast, European audiences’ ad views are balanced between large CTV/STB (53%) and small mobile/desktop (47%) screens.

Looking at ad composition by CTV device, Roku is far more dominant in the U.S., at 44%, than in Europe (9%). Amazon Fire TV is in second place in both regions, but at 16% in the U.S., versus 26% in Europe. Smart TVs drove 12% of U.S. CTV  ad views, but 24% of European views.


TV everywhere/TVE — authenticated streaming services accompanying a cable/satellite subscription — remains the most common distribution platform type in both the U.S. and Europe, but Europe, and France in particular, use STB devices much more. Free, ad-supported streaming /FASTs now account for nearly a quarter (23%) of views in the U.S., although still at 7% in Europe.


On the targeting front, the 80%-plus year-over-year increase in impressions using audience targeting in the U.S. translated to 68% of targeted campaigns employing behavioral data, and just 32% using demographics.

In Europe, where GDPR and other regulations limit use of behavioral data for marketing, the reverse is true, with 69% of targeted campaigns using demographic data and 31% behavioral.

A similar pattern prevails in use of programmatic in premium video, which expands buyers’ access to ad supply. In the U.S., programmatic views increased by a significant 21% YoY. Fully 85% of those views were generated by CTV campaigns, versus just 8% in Europe.


However, buyers’ desire for more direct paths to publishers and transparency into the validity of video impressions is still being limited by a lack of metadata standardization in CTV and STB inventory, FreeWheel acknowledges.

In fact, 65% of premium video transactions in the U.S., and 81% in Europe, were through direct and other non-programmatic deals in the first half.

Just 21% of programmatic views in the U.S. were generated by guaranteed deals, versus 53% in Europe.

More reverse scenarios: Live (versus video-on-demand) content accounted for 64% of programmatic video impressions in the U.S., but just 9% in Europe.

And across all video ad views, 54% are driven by live content, versus 46% by video-on-demand, in the U.S., versus 18% through live content and 82% through VOD in Europe.

There's at least one similarity in the regions’ video content habits, though: Long-form formats account for 70% of ad views in the U.S. and 70% in Europe.

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