Since COVID-19 has started, news publishers see an increase of their inventory and programmatic cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) is decreasing due to brands concerns about brand safety around COVID-19 articles. As we know that China has recovered from the pandemic and China’s advertising industry is seeing a rapid recovery after the pandemic, which illuminated positive trends. 

In Southeast Asia (SEA), publishers are seeing an increase in programmatic spend and brands looking for more efficiency and flexibility. On the demand side, opportunistic advertisers are taking advantage of lower CPM’s and growing interests for brick-and-mortar businesses transforming to digital faster than before. 

Overall the speed of change has accelerated leading brands by years, with some conservative advertisers signing off on transformation projects that would typically be delayed by quarters or years. More programmatic buy would be going to eCommerce. There is a changing customer needs including advertisers in the finance, health and insurance verticals. 

Publishers are reaching out directly to agencies and brands to appeal for loosening of keyword blocking with agencies finding a middle ground and opening up restrictions in May with positive results. Agencies are making efforts to lessen their targeting by moving their spends to lifestyle and sports. 

Agencies are using learnings taken from China, China is probably 4-6 weeks ahead of the recovery stage as compared to SEA. With more SEA countries loosening their lockdown restrictions, spend is recovering in some markets depending on how fast the markets reopen and containing the virus. Malaysia is coming back in place aggressively and Thailand is shifting their TV spends from time to time during this period. Markets vary in how fast they reopen their economy.


This thought leadership article was written by IAB SEA+India Programmatic Committee Members

  • Evelyn Tay, Business Development Director Mobile, OpenX
  • Niraj Nagpal, Director of Business Development, IPONWEB