Monetization - 6 min read  - April 14, 2020

Worldwide eCPMs March 2020: Effects of the Coronavirus Lockdowns

As more countries imposed lockdowns in March due to COVID-19, the effects towards the eCPM performance of in-app ads were surprising.

As COVID-19 continued to spread around the world in March, more and more countries started enforcing lockdowns. Suddenly billions of people are finding themselves stuck indoors and many businesses no longer have a reason to advertise anymore, especially events, retails and other social-oriented businesses. 

So how did this drastic change affect eCPMs for mobile app developers? 

In this month’s report, we present the actual eCPM performances in March and look at how the lockdown might have affected the eCPMs, ad impressions and overall ad revenue impact. We’ll also share some insights of how the situation might differ starting in Q2 and what you can do to prepare your mobile app for it.

Key findings:

  • Countries that started imposing nation-wide lockdowns did see a strong overall increase in ad impressions being served. However, the ad impressions increased was not consistent across all apps. Analyzing samples of gaming apps over several months, some apps showed notable ad impressions increase while others remained the same. The ones that were able to increase ad impressions by acquiring or reactivating their users in general gained net ad revenue, despite eCPM decreasing in some markets.

  • China, which started the lockdown earlier in February, saw their eCPM drop drastically in February. Even as their lockdown eased up in March, their eCPM continued to drop in March. Could this be a sign of what to come for the other countries that started lockdowns in March as we head into Q2?

  • Other countries that started lockdowns in March did not show a consistent eCPM change, at least not yet. In Italy, they went down but in other countries, like Spain and the U.S., they actually went up. This likely won’t be the case in Q2 though as businesses readjust their ad spend for the quarter, as our early data for April shows.

No Consistent Major eCPM Changes — At Least Not Yet 

From last month’s eCPM report, we noted that China’s eCPMs decreased drastically in February during their lockdown. As more countries went into lockdown in March, we were surprised to see that many countries did not show the same drop, with the exception of Italy.

France, for example, saw their rewarded video eCPMs jumped from $6.64 to $8.25 on iOS and from $4.29 to $5.03 on Android.

Japan also saw their eCPMs increased significantly, with rewarded video eCPMs increasing from $11.88 to $14.38 on iOS. The U.S. also saw a modest boost with their rewarded video eCPMs going from $14.59 to $15 on iOS.

Italy, however, did show a noticeable drop going from $3.91 to $3.27 for rewarded video on iOS and from $2.26 to $1.96 on Android.

In general, the effects of the coronavirus in March on eCPMs were mixed depending on each individual country but this could change once Q2 gets into full force.

One market to keep an eye on though is Russia as its eCPM showed a downward trajectory, going from $4.46 to $3.33 for rewarded video on iOS and from $1.93 to $1.45 on Android.

Ad Impressions Went Up But Only for Some Apps

If we look at a sample of mobile gaming apps over the last five months, there seems to be a correlation between when a country went into lockdown and higher number of active users and number of ad impressions delivered. It makes sense that people under lockdown will have more time to spend on mobile gaming apps. 

For countries that have not yet or have just started implementing a lockdown in April, we can expect their overall ad impression to increase similarly to countries that have done so in March.

What’s important to note is that not all apps increased their active users and ad impressions at the same rate. Some remained the same while some increased significantly. Proactive user acquisition and reactivation effort is key.

China

As the first country to impose a strict nationwide lockdown in February, China saw a sharp increase in active users, and subsequent ad impressions, in February for some of the apps, which carried over to March. However, with the eCPM decreased mentioned earlier, the ARPU (average revenue per user) took a dive.

Appodeal’s Internal Data: sample of 8 iOS mobile games serving rewarded videos

Italy

As the second country to impose a strict nationwide lockdown in March, Italy also saw a sharp increase in active users, and subsequent ad impressions, in March for some of the apps. Italy’s eCPMs did decrease in March as well, which caused the ARPU to trend down.

Appodeal’s Internal Data: sample of 10 iOS mobile games serving rewarded videos

Spain

Like Italy, Spain imposed a strict nationwide lockdown in March and some of the apps saw a sharp increase in active users, and subsequent ad impressions, in March. Unlike Italy though, Spain’s eCPMs actually increased, which drove up ARPU.

Appodeal’s Internal Data: sample of 12 iOS mobile games serving rewarded videos

United States

The U.S. did not impose as strict of a nationwide lockdown like Italy or Spain did. Theirs was more imposed on a state by state basis. Overall, the apps’ active users and ad impressions delivered in March were higher than other months but not as notable.

Appodeal’s Internal Data: sample of 12 iOS mobile games serving rewarded videos

Russia

Russia had yet to impose a nationwide lockdown in March, so there was not a noticeable uptick in active users or ad impressions for these sample apps. However, the ruble currency plunge due to the oil price crisis had a dramatic impact on the apps’ ARPU. And with the lockdown that began in April, for app developers that rely heavily on Russian users we encourage you to take additional preparations to mitigate the effects.

Appodeal’s Internal Data: sample of 8 iOS mobile games serving rewarded videos

Tough time ahead in Q2? 

Unless your mobile gaming app is one of those that stand to gain lots of active users and ad impressions through proactive user acquisition and reactivation efforts during the lockdown period, you might see an ad revenue drop as we are entering into Q2 of 2020.

From early indications in April, many geo markets are showing a noticeable eCPM decrease as soon as Q2 started — some more drastic than others.

Appodeal’s Internal Data: eCPMs by country

A likely reason for this is that ad spend budgets are typically allocated per quarter. And now that most advertisers had some time to evaluate the business landscape amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they have made adjustments to their Q2 ad spend accordingly. 

The Russian market in particular is facing sharper eCPM decrease challenges due to the double whammy of the oil price and ruble crisis, amid a strict nationwide lockdown that began in April.

So what can you do to mitigate these challenges in Q2?

Being prepared is key. We recommend you do what you can to make up for the eCPM decrease by increasing your ad impressions by bringing new and inactive users back to your app. As our data shows, apps that saw users using them more frequently during the lockdowns grew their ad impressions and consequently their ad revenue despite the eCPM decrease.

Want specific tips on how to grow and reactivate your users amid the coronavirus lockdowns?
Check out this post for 7 great tips.

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