Berlin, April 27, 2021 – The coronavirus pandemic and the budget pressure associated with the tense economic situation have significantly increased demand from advertisers for efficient digital marketing campaigns. The trend towards increasingly targeting consumers digitally and consistently based on data, which became apparent at the beginning of the second quarter of 2020 at the latest, has continued throughout the year, as an analysis by data management specialist The ADEX shows.

Data usage, target group advertising contacts and data-driven campaigns at record highs

2020 was an absolute “data year”. The number of target group segments provided via The ADEX’s data management platform (DMP) for programmatic campaign targeting was higher than in the previous year in every month. With the exception of the months of April to June inclusive, in which the economy first had to adjust to the lockdown-related change in consumer behavior, data usage rose continuously over the course of the year and reached its absolute peak in November and December, just in time for the Christmas business. Campaigns and booked impressions (target group advertising contacts) showed an almost identical development over time, increasing by a factor of around five and eight respectively.

Use of B2B data much more restrained

The picture was somewhat different for B2B target groups that can be booked via The ADEX, such as IT security, fleet management, medicine & health, finance, recruiting & HR and many more. Although data usage (number of data segments booked) started the year at almost twice the previous year’s level, it fell significantly from April onwards and was unable to return to the previous year’s level by the end of the year. A key reason for this could be that B2B audiences are significantly more expensive than target groups from the B2C sector and the demand side – agencies and advertisers – is more price-sensitive here. While fewer B2B target group advertising contacts were booked and delivered overall, the number of campaigns in the first three quarters, with the exception of April, was significantly above the previous year’s level, i.e. the volumes of data-based campaigns were much smaller.

Target groups most in demand are demographics and interest groups

As in previous years, the most frequently booked target group characteristics in 2020 came from the demographics and interest categories: In first place with a 28.6% share of impressions played out was the target group characteristic age, followed by interest in cars (9.1%) and gender (8.7%). More than a third of the target group advertising contacts (37.3%) were therefore based on the two demographic target group characteristics of age and gender. Looking at the share of sales, age and interest in cars are also in the top two places (21% and 17.9% respectively). In third place, however, are B2B audiences, which account for 14.6% of sales.

Different demand trends for interest-based target group data over the course of the year

Demand for interest-based target groups such as automotive, career, family & friends, home & garden, technology & computers and travel developed positively across the board over the course of the year – albeit with significantly different starting levels and trends:

For example, the usually observable seasonal effects in demand for audience categories such as travel failed to materialize in 2020 due to the pandemic. In general, this data segment only recorded very low basic demand and a corresponding small increase in demand over the course of the year.

This was not the case in the automotive segment, where budgets for automotive campaigns were temporarily frozen several times during the spring lockdown in March and April, but the relevant advertising spend rose continuously thereafter. The majority of advertising budgets in this area were spent in the second half of the year, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Target groups from the home & garden sector were just as much in demand during the first lockdown in spring as audiences from the technology & computer sector, which saw peaks in demand in April (first wave of home office and home schooling, upgrades in the home entertainment sector) and in October and December (“lockdown light” and then another hard lockdown).

Target groups from the career category, particularly highly qualified workers, were targeted more strongly, especially in the second half of the year. One reason for this could be that the spring lockdown and the short-time working that continued in many areas well into the second half of the year had a negative impact on the unemployment rate.

Dino Bongartz, CEO of The ADEX, explains: “The coronavirus pandemic with its lockdown shock and completely uncertain market and consumer prospects has put advertising companies and their budgets under enormous pressure over the past year. On the one hand, this has led to a general shift in advertising spending towards digital campaigns that can be realized at short notice and adapted flexibly. On the other hand, the effectiveness and efficiency of campaigns have become even more important. This has significantly increased the demand for data-based, programmatic campaigns. Overall, the demand for target group data with the usual response times has provided a relatively accurate reflection of the fundamental economic development as well as consumer sentiment and demand in individual sectors and markets. We can already see that this trend will continue in 2021.”

About Virtual Minds

For over 20 years, Virtual Minds has stood for premium adtech made in Europe. Virtual Minds’ digital and media technology brands – Adition (enterprise marketing platform and ad serving), Active Agent (omnichannel DSP), The Adex (data management platform and cross-device media solutions), Yieldlab (omnichannel SSP) and the Virtual Minds Media Manager (real-time playout of classic linear media inventories) – are among the top European and international solution providers in their respective segments and together form the leading European modular full-stack offering for the digital advertising market.

Virtual Minds’ international customers include major publishing and TV houses and their marketing units, agency groups and numerous top advertisers.

Virtual Minds GmbH is a 100% subsidiary of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE.