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How Coronavirus Impacts Advertisers | What Does Data Say?

Data updated on 20.04.2020

The year 2020 was supposed to be a good year for the advertising industry. Unfortunately, coronavirus came and brought uncertainty and anxiety not only in the advertising industry but in our everyday life– canceled travel plans, conferences, increased demand for pharmaceutical products, and more.

According to our data compiled in March 2020 Setupad share statistics on how coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected three advertising industries– airline, pharmaceutical, and travel. We are going to compare our advertisers’ data in these industries for 2019 and 2020 during the first quarter.

Let’s start!

Changes in the Airline Industry due to COVID-19

At the beginning of February (2020), coronavirus started to spread through Europe and the USA. Since COVID-19 transmission happens from human-to-human a lot of countries made strict rules in order to limit the tendency of the disease. One of these rules was to close the country borders including air transportation.

In February the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted the revenue loss for the aviation industry $29 billion for this year. But now the latest update from IATA predicts a $113 billion revenue loss in the worst scenario. Meaning if the border restrictions continue the revenue loss will keep to increase.

So for how many ad impressions advertisers were spending money in 2020 and 2019?

According to data generated by Setupad, in 2020 week 13 advertisers were buying a whopping 62 times less (4,041) ad impressions in the airline industry compared to week 13 of 2019 (252,449). But the most significant drop in buying ad impressions was in week15 2020 (2,661), which showed a 99% drop compared to week15 2019 (411,812).

According to Setupad latest update, the cumulative number of paid ad impressions in the airline industry was 53% less in 2020 (1,463,089) compared to 2019 (4,800,163).

Changes in the Pharmaceutical Industry due to COVID-19

While some companies might experience downside risks related to the Covid-19 others might become more profitable, like pharmaceutical industry. Gerald Posner, author of “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America” said: “Pharmaceutical companies view Covid-19 as a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity. The world needs pharmaceutical products, of course. For the new coronavirus outbreak, in particular, we need treatments and vaccines and, in the U.S., tests. Dozens of companies are now vying to make them.”

What about paid ad impressions in the pharmaceutical industry?

Looking at Setupad results of week5 in 2020 advertisers were buying ad impressions by 11% more (335,717) in the pharmaceutical industry than in 2019 week5 (267,989). Moreover, according to media, this was the time when COVID-19 reached Europe. After the week5 2020 Setupad experts expected paid ad impression growth each week. However, in 2020 week8 (275,274) there was a drop by 278,838 paid ad impressions compared to week7 2020 (554,112). But in 2020 week10 advertisers were buying 2 times more (645,895) ad impressions compared to week9 2020 (299,590). And it was by 28% more than in weeek10 2019 (360,778). However, in 2020 week13 and week14 advertisers were buying less ad impressions than in week13 and week14 of 2019.

Let’s look at the total number of paid ad impressions in 2019 and 2020 for the pharmaceutical industry.

Statistics show that advertisers were buying ad impressions in the pharmaceutical industry by 6% more in 2020 (5,958,340) than in 2019 (5,334,030).

Changes in the Travel Industry due to COVID-19

Mobility Market Outlook forecasts that there is going to be a 17% decrease in 2020 on global revenue for the travel and tourism industry compared to 2019. Moreover, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts that 50 million (M) jobs worldwide could be lost due to coronavirus pandemic within the industry. In Asia approximately 30M, in Europe 7M, around 5M in the USA and the rest 8M in other continents.

What about paid ad impressions in the travel industry?

Looking at the results from the beginning of the year 2020 week1 (889,494) advertisers were buying already by 22% fewer ad impressions compared to the year 2019 week1 (1,380,557). According to statistics by Setupad in 2020 week15 (142,063) advertisers were buying by 90% less ad impressions in the travel industry than in 2019 week15 (1,301,729). This paid ad impression drop in the industry was the most serious one during the past 15 weeks of 2020 and 2019.

In 2020 the total number of paid ad impressions (11,138,338) decreased by 35% compared to 2019 (23,043,767). According to a Reuters interview with WTTC managing director Virginia Messina, world travel might drop by 25% in 2020 due to COVID-19.

Final Thoughts…

Comparing all the results above, we, for now, conclude that in 2020 advertisers are paying for fewer ad impressions in airline and travel industries compared to 2019. The statistics bring even more attention to the fact that the airline industry really needs financial help from governments. Meaning, not only to cover the losses caused by COVID-19, but also to keep as many employees as they can during this difficult time.

For the pharmaceutical industry, it’s still hard to predict the future increase or decrease of paid ad impressions in 2020. It’s because the data fluctuates over weeks and there is no gradual rise or drop
during this time.

However, if advertisers buy fewer impressions in one industry, they will buy more in other. And in this case, advertisers are paying for more ad impressions in the pharmaceutical industry. We have collected and updated statistics about more advertising industries in one infographic right here: COVID-19 and Advertising Industry Data Update.

About Setupad Team
Setupad Team are experts in programmatic advertising and header bidding.

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