CTV Drives Up CPMs Heading Into Summer While Auto Advertisers Stall

By Sarah Levitt

Part of our STAQ Benchmarking Newsletter series

May Open Market Display CPMs are 20% greater than they were last year at this time (and grew almost 10% compared to last week). Open Video CPMs are almost 15% above last year, and drumroll…..Open CTV CPMs are 30% higher than 2023!

It’s no secret the 1st half of 2024 has been a whirlwind. While there’ve been ups and downs, we try to look on the bright side of things. According to Digiday, publishers are finding new opportunities within their existing business to drive revenue growth through programmatic. 

This year is unique (understatement!), with the Olympics and Elections stirring the advertising landscape. Advertisers are either cautiously retreating or boldly leaping into the fray, and we’re witnessing the full spectrum of marketing responses.

The most surprising development is unfolding within the Auto category. Traditionally consistent, albeit cyclical spenders, Auto brands have been anything but that, with advertising spend in the category down nearly 15% compared to 2023. We observed 9 of the top 15 Auto advertisers (by ad revenue) decrease spend, with Mazda, Renault, and Subaru down 50 – 60% vs this time last year.

However (bright side!), we’re seeing increased spend across a few brands especially Nissan, Geely (Volvo), and Honda who are up 60 – 100% compared to last year. Likely due to the Memorial Day incentives Auto advertisers love ahead of the summer road trip/travel season. See the breakdown of spending in the Auto category in the chart below.

In general, it will be interesting to see if this is a hold and wait game for the Auto category with major league sporting events heading deep into the playoffs, which attract Auto spend, as well as the Olympics. Brands might be refining their creative strategies to resonate with Olympic-themed programming, holding back their campaigns until closer to the summer games.

We’ve spotted early adopters of this approach like Toyota, and if history is any indicator, where one leads, others often follow. Or so we hope. In fact, over the last few weeks we’ve seen GM increase spend by almost 40%, and Ford by over 10% compared to the week prior, both hitting their highest advertising spending weeks of the year. See the below list of advertisers showing the biggest growth in spend over the last few weeks.

We’ll continue to monitor these trends and report our findings. Keep an eye out for our upcoming analysis of Political Ad Spend. It’s starting to heat up quickly, and we’re tracking every step of the way.

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