As the world’s leading independent ad tech company, AppNexus sees an enormous amount of data flowing through our platform, providing us with a unique perspective on digital advertising trends. Last quarter, we published a Q3 Platform Index, which offered a behind-the-scenes look into how events in the larger news cycle—like the discovery of water on Mars and Donald Trump’s first GOP debate appearance—influence the digital advertising scene.
Today, AppNexus released its 2015 Q4 Platform Index, based on aggregated data from more than 2,200 buyers and sellers and over seven billion impressions across our open technology platform. In Q4, digital ad-buyers engaged in one of the most competitive buying periods we’ve ever seen. As expected given the industry’s cyclical nature, advertisers once again spent more money in Q4 than they did in each of the three quarters that preceded it, but the real story was in the quality of the impressions they purchased and the prices they paid to secure them. Further, we explored the extent to which campaign complexity costs advertisers time and money—and what AppNexus is doing to create a seamless, powerful, programmable future.
Here are a few key takeaways from the Q4 U.S. Platform Index:
- Programmatic spending rises: U.S. transactions on the AppNexus platform totaled $106 million, up 12 percent from Q3 spend.
- Holiday season brings CPM spike: U.S. CPMs reached an all-time platform high of $1.60 for the month of December.
- Quality breeds performance: U.S. Q4 click-through rates were up 111 percent year-over-year, following the introduction in April of new features that tightened our inventory quality standards.
- Cyber Monday’s traffic explosion: Publishers in the Shopping vertical had a great holiday season, with impression volume peaking at over 3 billion on Cyber Monday (November 30).
- Buyers enjoy a post-Christmas bargain: U.S. CPMs fell 8.1 percent on Christmas Day and continued trending downward into the New Year, even though click-through rates remained high throughout this period.
- Campaign complexity in Q4 proves marketers need a simpler solution: 46 percent of Q4 spend on the platform came from line items with six or more campaigns. Instead of juggling these buying strategies separately, in many cases marketers could have saved time and money by using AppNexus Programmable Bidder to merge them into a single, automated decision tree.