IX Perspectives

Getting Past Flat – Marketplace Pulse: September 24

Marketplace Pulse September 28

September to Remember

If you only cared about Digital Ad Spend, and not (gesturing broadly at everything) anything else, well, this has been an amazing end to the summer and Q3. At this point, Ad Spend is outperforming our expectations. In my last newsletter, we talked about getting past flat. Well, we got past it and kept going.

It’s possible the positive trend line is just a timing issue. It could be quarterly budgets were back-loaded as we moved through an uncertain summer. The early tumult that impacted Ad Spend in April had a lot to do with planning, strategy, and messaging that was no longer viable. It was not, strictly speaking, a budget issue. As those campaigns were re-tooled and new strategies were tested and proven out, folks took the governor off and let spend go. This leads me to believe that even with a second wave upon us in certain markets, impacts to Ad Spend may end up far less pronounced. In short, marketers are prepared. This is something none of us could say the first time around.

Hope you are Staying Safe, Healthy, and Happy.

Will Doherty
EVP, Global Marketplace Development
Index Exchange

Everything is Awesome

Graph of Ad Spend, CPMs and brands
Graph of Ad Spend, CPMs and brands

Everything in this chart is good. Global Ad Spend shoots up and to the right in the beginning of the month and continues climbing. I see no reason why this won’t persist through the end of the quarter. CPMs are up, and the number of Advertisers (Brands) is up. I stopped looking for different words for up. Things are up and it’s good, and good makes us happy.

Since many of you ask, here is a Europe-focused version. This includes the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland and Austria:

Graph of European Region Ad spend, CPM and Brands
Graph of European Region Ad spend, CPM and Brands

While the number of active Brands is a bit flat, it’s nice to see the steroidal increases we are seeing in Ad Spend. CPMs are surprisingly consistent between the US market and European markets.


Top Industry View - Ad Spend Since July 1
Top Industry View – Ad Spend Since July 1

While CPG and Retail are doing a lot of the heavy lifting from a category perspective, all categories are up.

  • Auto: We are hearing whispers this category could have a late year push. It’s still not back to Pre-Covid levels, but it’s making progress.
  • Entertainment: Sports came back and associated gambling spend came with it, especially with the NFL having a somewhat seamless kickoff. A deeper dive is coming later in the newsletter.
  • Travel: This category is slowly increasing, but it’s still down YoY.
  • Media: While volatile as a category, Media is trending way up as many companies vie for your attention and subscription dollars.


Remarkably, Sports are not only back but thriving – on our TVs anyway. It’s amazing to me that you can remove the fans, pipe in some ambient crowd noise, and be hard pressed to feel the difference between this and a “normal” game. And whoever is dropping “boos” into the mix has a pavlovian read on my emotional state. Good work.

Gambling spiked with the return of NFL and the NBA Playoffs while performances and events remained down considerably (and understandably). TV Broadcast is also making meaningful contributions.

Graph of sport related advertising spend
Graph of sport related advertising spend

Everyone is Working for the Weekend

Something a bit unusual has started to take place recently. Weekends have been performing exceptionally well. I think this is an aberration and will reverse to the mean over time, but it was odd enough I felt like highlighting it. It’s been six months since I have been on the subway, but when I see something, I still say something.

Spend per day on August vs September
Spend per day on August vs September

You may be asking what this chart details. In short, we noticed weekend Ad Spend (Saturday and Sunday) grew more than the other days of the week when comparing August to September. In short – weekends – where there is usually a noticeable drop in Ad Spend – had much less of a drop. In fact, Ad Spend stayed much more consistent across seven days than any other period I remember seeing in the past. It’s not expected behavior.


Sometimes this thing we do – programmatic – can feel trivial in the grand scheme of things. It can feel exceptionally trivial during a contentious election season. Most of the time, it’s hard to explain to anyone what it is we do which just makes our bubble a bit smaller. For example, I am sure there were many confused family members and / or roommates trying to understand why we cackled when header bidding got a shout out in a Congressional hearing (or why we even were watching C-SPAN in the first place). It was a real “I know that guy” moment for us. So when the budgets start opening up, what starts as relief can quickly turn into elation. And that’s a great way to remember this September.