Virus Cuts Linear TV Ad Revenues by 27%: IAB

Linear TV advertising revenues are down 27% because of the Coronavirus crisis according to ad sales executives surveyed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The executives expect that the crisis will have its biggest impact on advertising between March and June, and they said that declines in digital spending were smaller than those in traditional media. Programmatic sales were being affected less than direct sales.

The results were fairly consistent with a similar survey the IAB conducted two weeks earlier among buyers and marketers, said IAB president David Cohen, previously a top buyer with media agency Magna Global. Buyers in that survey said they were cutting spending on linear TV by 38% and digital by 33%.

TV was probably being hit harder because buying digital tends to be more flexible than TV and new digital ads are easier to create than commercials, Cohen said.

The bright spot in the report was that the sales executives thought that the declines would get smaller by the fourth quarter, getting down to 18%. Buyer in the earlier survey said their spending would be down 12%.

The report noted that for both TV and digital, news consumption was way up, but that ad revenues were not moving in the same direction.

“News is being disproportionately affected in terms of pausing, cancellations and adjustments, in addition to blacklisting,” Cohen said.

Cohen said the IAB’s position was that news has never been needed more than now, during this crisis. “If we don’t support the news and then we don’t have news, we will be in a far worse situation than we are now,” he said. The IAB plans to hold meeting with advertisers to urge them not to blacklist advertising next to news content about COVID 19.

“We have heard anecdotal evidence that would suggest that there are many brands that have started to relax their blocking of the news," he said.

In the survey, sales execs said they were being more flexible with clients during the crisis, with 58% agreeing to push campaigns to a later date, 39% creating different sponsorship opportunities, 36% creating new content for sponsors, 38% working with buyers to change creative messaging, 31% offering more added value and 32% offering lower rates.

“Sellers are becoming much more consultative,” Cohen added.

In digital, sellers said their revenue forecasts for March through June were down 25% for digital display, 20% for digital video, 21% for digital audio, 20% for social media and 19% for paid search.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.