covid-19 mobile marketing advertising economy impact ecpm

Verve Group Insights: The Impact of COVID-19 on Mobile Advertising

PubNative released a report back in April on the impact of COVID-19 on mobile ad spend from before the outbreak until March, looking at behavioral changes during different phases of the pandemic. Tying in with these results at the end of Q1, Verve Group has put together a follow-up report, taking a broader look at the effect of COVID-19 on the mobile advertising ecosystem, bringing together data from Applift, PubNative and Verve.

Report Overview: What Did We Examine? 

In our research we considered:

  • 12 App Categories
  • 5 Store Types
  • 3-Month Analysis (March 15 –  June 30, 2020)
  • Platforms: Android & iOS
  • Sources: Verve Group: Applift, PubNative, Verve 
  • Geography: Global

This report includes data from both the demand and supply sides of Verve Group, with insights from PubNative’s programmatic ad exchange, Applift’s mobile ad performance solution and the results from Verve’s location-based marketing platform. 

Demand and Supply

In this report, the focus on the demand side lies on ad impressions, eCPM and ad spend from PubNative’s marketplace. For the whole picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the programmatic advertising economy, we are comparing ad spend to ad requests on the supply side in order to understand the development of these KPIs from the end of Q1 to the end of Q2.

Loosening Lockdown Regulations: The Impact of COVID-19 on eCPM and Impressions

When we compare the growth rate of impressions and eCPM values from PubNative’s ad exchange between the end of Q1 and the end of Q2, we see a disproportional development of eCPM prices and impression count for most of the app categories we looked at. Impressions surged for books, messaging and sports apps while their eCPM prices dropped. 

Among the categories with a decline in impressions are Music, Finance, and Games, with the latter two seeing only a slight rise in eCPM prices. Only the Music app category saw both a decline in impressions and eCPM between the end of March and the end of June 2020. A drop in impressions in the bottom app categories could be attributed to the end of lockdown periods in most countries by the end of June and less time spent on mobile phones in general. It is worth noting that dating and social apps have both grown in impressions and eCPM by the end of June, compared to the end of March. This could also be a significant indicator of the return to personal and social interactions after countries lifted strict regulations and lockdowns.

Ad Spend and Ad Requests: How Do Publishers React?

How have the Messaging, Dating or Finance app categories evolved in terms of ad spend and ad requests during this period? For the full picture and to see which categories grew in both ad spend and requests from the end of Q1 to the end of Q2 2020, download our infographic below.

Mobile Ad Spend: The Impact of COVID-19 on Performance Campaigns

In our core markets for performance marketing – Japan, Brazil, USA, and Canada – a number of app categories stood out in their behavior during Q2 2020. 

The Finance category, in particular, had some interesting trends to note. In Brazil, finance apps reached their conversion peak at the beginning of April. In Brazil, taxes usually need to be declared by April 30. Therefore, this increase could also be a result of seasonal fluctuations. However, because of COVID-19, the due date for filing tax declarations was pushed from the initial deadline of April 30 to June 30. Hence, another increase in conversions is recorded at the end of June. 

Similarly, in Canada and the US, tax deadlines were extended to June 1 in Canada and June 15 in the U.S. Correspondingly, we see a rise in conversions around mid-May and a small increase just before June 15 in these countries. To learn about the top app categories in Japan, Brazil, USA and Canada and their trends over the course of COVID-19 so far, download the infographic below.

Store Visit Behavior: Location-Based Marketing in Times of COVID-19

By being able to gain insights into store visit patterns in the US with Verve Group’s location-based solution, there is a notable reflection of COVID-19 regulations in consumer behavior. At the end of Q1, it is clear that visiting frequencies in restaurants and transportation suddenly slumped because of restrictions put in place due to the outbreak.

For more insights on the development of visits to restaurants, as well as the development of Big Box stores, grocery stores and gas stations between the end of Q1 to the end of Q2, download the infographic below.


To see all of the information at one glance, Verve Group is offering an infographic on the impact of COVID-19 on mobile advertising. Just fill in the form below and download the report for free.

If you have any questions or would like to share your insights with us, do not hesitate to get in touch.

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