Q3 2020 Earnings Analysis
Q3 2020 Earnings Analysis
I have been a bit distracted this quarter with the election and COVID data absorbing my life. In fact, as some of you know, I started a COVID/Healthcare website, where I post a new thought piece on a daily basis -- https://www.thismaysting.com/posts. I hope you enjoy it.
For the media world, seeing sequential month over month revenue growth. Q3 was much better than Q2 for pretty much all companies. Impressions increase throughout. Political spend pushed advertising revenue up by Billions. Many companies reorganized around streaming. Live sports returned. CTV is still the darling, advertisers seem to love the flexibility in these uncertain times. Categories like Auto came back. Largest verticals seem to be eCommerce, Retail, and CPG. Ecommerce accelerated an order of magnitude over the last two quarters. Performance marketing is still growing. Print and broadcast radio are still hurting. Snap and Pinterest took some advertising $’s from Facebook. New ad products are being introduced. Twitter, once again under performing. Google believes their products are creating significant consumer benefits and will confidently make their case in court. Will be interesting to see what Q4 looks like, post the election, but it does look promising for the platforms.
Overall, 2020 continues to be a year like no other. In Q3, the world was still dealing with the economic and health challenges brought on by COVID. Nobody knows exactly how all of this will play out. There will continue to be a lot of unresolved questions about what’s happening. Gratitude to essential workers, health care providers, first responders, teachers and scientists everywhere.
Of course, let me know if you have any questions and send some feedback if you have time. Enjoy. :-)
Q2 Revenue by Company/Product Sorted From Best to Worst
Roku platform segment revenue was up 78% Y/Y to $319M, driven by broad-based strength in both advertising and content distribution businesses. Roku monetized video ad impressions reaccelerated to almost 90% Y/Y in Q3, as advertisers shifted dollars to streaming as they follow TV viewership and take advantage of increased flexibility given disruptions to the traditional TV upfront process.
Pinterest Q3 revenue grew 58% Y/Y driven by a recovery in advertiser demand and positive returns from our investments in ad products and international expansion.
Amazon’s advertising was $5.4B up 54% Y/Y
SNAP generated $679M in revenue was up 52% Y/Y
FOX News advertising revenue is up 36% Y/Y
Alphabet other revenues were $5.5B up 35% Y/Y primarily driven by growth in Play and YouTube non-advertising revenues within YouTube's subscription revenues
TTD revenue was $216 million, representing an increase of 32% Y/Y. Benefited from several trends that helped us significantly exceed expectations. Existing advertisers shifted more spend to our platform during the quarter. This included CTV, which offers the ability for advertisers to apply data to their TV ad campaigns in ways that are simply not possible with linear.
YouTube advertising revenues was $5B up 32% Y/Y, driven by substantial growth in direct response, followed by a rebound in brand advertising.
Spotify had 185M (Euros) in revenue up 31% Y/Y, the advertising business returned to growth
Dotdash revenue increased 26% Y/Y to $51M, due to 70% higher Performance Marketing revenue and 9% higher Display Advertising revenue.
Netflix posted revenue of $6.4B up 23% Y/Y
Facebook total ad revenue for Q3 was $21.2B, which is a 22% Y/Y increase
Fox cable advertising revenues increased 18% Y/Y led by another quarter of impressive linear and digital growth of FOX News media partially offset by the postponement of live sporting
Meredith Y/Y digital advertising revenues grew 15%
Alphabet revenue was $46.2B, up 14% Y/Y
Twitter advertisers significantly increased their investment on Twitter in Q3, engaging our larger audience around the return of events and increased product launches, driving revenue to $936M, up 14% Y/Y
NYT total subscription revenues increased 13% Y/Y in the quarter with digital-only subscription revenue growing 34% to $155 million, making Q3 the first full quarter that digital-only subscription revenue exceeded Print subscription revenue.
Comcast advertising revenue increased 12% Y/Y due to strong political advertising, which was up 70% over what we had generated in the last presidential election in 2016.
Magnite Q3 revenue was $61M, which equates to a 12% pro forma increase Y/Y and the 44% sequential increase over Q2 reported revenue of $42.3 million.
J2 advertising was up about 10% Y/Y
Google network advertising revenues (DoubleClick) was $5.7B up 9% Y/Y
Google search and other advertising revenues were $26.3B in the quarter, up 6% Y/Y, as advertisers spend began to pick up in August
Turner $3.2B in revenue, up 6% Y/Y due to an increase in advertising, content and other revenues, partially offset by a decrease in subscription revenues
Dow Jones revenue for the quarter was $386M, up 1%Y/Y with digital revenues accounting for a record 73% of total revenues this quarter, up 8 percentage points from the prior year. Digital advertising revenues again exceeded print advertising revenues, accounting for 57% of total advertising and increased 14%, benefiting from growth in direct display, programmatic and sponsored link revenues. Interestingly, we saw digital revenue growth in every industry category. Print and other advertising fell 39%, a more modest improvement from the fourth quarter rate.
HBO with $1.8B in revenue, down 2% Y/Y
IPG organic change of net revenue was negative 4% Y/Y
Viacom advertising revenue was down 6% Y/Y, reflecting continued COVID headwinds. However, the Q3 growth rate was a significant improvement relative to the Y/Y decline we experienced in Q2. The improvement in advertising trends has been broad-based across broadcast and cable, encouraged by what we’re seeing and big picture advertising is certainly moving in the right direction.
Verizon Media Group revenue was $1.7B down 7% Y/Y
Comcast core advertising, excluding political, was down 7% Y/Y
Discovery US networks advertising revenues decreased 8% Y/Y. This was largely a result of COVID related weakness in demand as well as continued declines in pay-TV subscribers leading to lower universe estimates.
NYT Digital advertising declined 13% Y/Y. This result is somewhat better than the guidance we gave on our second quarter earnings call, largely as a result of higher levels of spending from our large deals with Verizon, Facebook, and Mastercard.
Criteo revenue declined 16% Y/Y
Gannett revenues were down 20% Y/Y on the same-store basis to the prior year. This is a significant improvement from the second quarter which was down 28%. The improvement was driven predominantly by a resurgence in advertising revenue, with especially strong performance on the digital side.
Iheart revenue decreased by 22% Y/Y and it's encouraging to see that on average in Q3 markets whose offices are open are performing about 600 basis points better than markets that are not
Warner Brothers revenue was $2.4B, down 28% Y/Y due to declines in television, theatrical, and games
NYT total advertising revenues declined 30% Y/Y as both digital and print were severely impacted by lower marketer demand during the pandemic.
NYT Print advertising declined approximately 47%Y/Y with luxury, entertainment, media and home furnishing categories hit hardest.
Economic Overview -- Comments From the Earnings Calls
2020 continues to be a year like no other. In Q3, the world was still dealing with the economic and health challenges brought on by COVID-19. Nobody knows exactly how all of this will play out.
There will continue to be a lot of unresolved questions about what’s happening in the world
Our near-term outlook begins with an assumption of how underlying consumer markets will develop. This by itself is highly uncertain. The reality is that COVID cases are increasing in many parts of the world, without the resources infrastructure, or in some cases the will to effectively manage it.
We’ll likely be operating without broadly available vaccines or advanced therapeutic through 2021. This could prompt tighter containment policies and dramatically reduced mobility, which would affect employment and overall incomes, potentially leading to a deeper and longer recession across large parts of the world.
In the U.S., it’s unclear how long we’ll be operating at high unemployment levels, and when and how much mitigating economic stimulus will be available. There continues to be social unrest and economic distress in many parts of the world that also affect the prospects for growth. These same dynamics can result in an increased cost to operate and there is an ongoing risk of supply chain disruption
To see a meaningful step up in demand from here, we will need business travel to further improve, local quarantines to end, and international restrictions to lift, that will only come with widespread advances by the medical community and offices reopening, which many expect will start to happen in the first half of next year.
We plan to take additional actions in our fourth quarter, the majority of which will be related to real estate
COVID remains a threat to everyday life and regrettably is picking up in many key global markets. Unemployment while a better picture than earlier this year remains historically high. The status of important government support programs is unresolved, especially, in the U.S., but globally as well. All of this makes client decision-making for the holiday season difficult to forecast.
The world accelerating its transition to online and digital services
Gratitude to essential workers, health care providers, first responders, teachers and scientists everywhere.
We are living in a time of deep uncertainty. The next few months or quarters will continue to be precarious for so many businesses.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for many families to reconsider their current housing and environment prompting an increasing number to seek less dense areas and larger properties.
As the restrictions on movement ease, we believe that trend is likely to gather momentum, particularly at a time of record low interest rates.
Starbucks CEO said -- broadly speaking we’ve seen U.S. transactions migrate from dense metro centers to the suburbs, from cafes to drive-throughs, from early mornings to mid mornings with outpaced recovery on the weekends.
Media Overview -- Comments from the Earnings Calls
Take the money that our members give us every month and invest that as judiciously as smartly as we can and creating new amazing stories
A very pragmatic view of the broader economic picture and the COVID driven challenges we faced in some segments. In a COVID environment with a tough theatrical business, we made important organizational moves that further position us for growth in direct to consumer streaming
Among client sectors, our top performers were again retail and healthcare. At the other end of the spectrum, the sectors most impacted by the recession were the industrial clients within our other category and the auto and transportation sector, which is also similar to our second quarter. In terms of sequential changes, it's worth noting that both auto and industrial were less challenged than what we saw in the second quarter.
We're hearing from clients that they are at a decisive juncture for brands. There will be enduring consumer changes as a result of the pandemic including the mass shift to e-commerce, the emergence of digital consumer experience and a deeper accountability for brand authenticity and purpose.
Saw both brand advertisers and large retailers that have paused spend in Q2 returned to our platform.
Ongoing secular shift toward e-commerce that has been accelerated by the COVID crisis.
Relentlessly focused on what we do best, seeing in every obstacle an opportunity to do something new, something creative, something better on behalf of our customers.
Benefited from lower T&E expenses due to COVID.
The digital marketplace is experiencing fast-moving trends in e-commerce and digital marketing
The digital transformation has been underway for years, but the pandemic has accelerated it dramatically.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, before the pandemic, eCommerce’s share of U.S. retail sales was steadily increasing by an average of 1 percentage point a year for the past four years. This share leapt by 4 percentage points in Q2 alone – that’s 4 years of change in less than 100 days.
Improvement in scatter pricing, owing to firming marketplace demand
Speaking of categories, we’ve also seen certain COVID-impacted industries, like auto and retail gradually return, which reflects improvement in the economy
Major media companies continue to reorganize around streaming
Advertisers reassessed their TV upfront advertising commitments and moved significant portions of their investments to connected TV platforms
The impact of the COVID situation remains hard to predict both on user engagement patterns, as well as on advertiser demand. In addition to on-going uncertainty related to continued disease spread and lockdowns across the globe, our visibility into Q4 is further limited by uncertainty about the impact COVID will have on seasonal engagement and ad spend.
2020 is a year where agility matters more than ever. In this environment, marketers have come to more fully appreciate the power of data-driven advertising
Advertising is an engine of economic growth, and our customers know that their campaigns can fuel growth and drive market share gains for their brands. And because of that, during times of uncertainty, they become much more deliberate.
In 2020, almost every marketer and every large brand is being asked to do more with less. Every advertising dollar has to be accounted for. CFOs are more involved in marketing and advertising decisions than they've been in years. They become a lot more focused on what business value is created by advertising. And that means that advertisers have to focus on ad opportunities that are measurable and comparable, where the business ROI can be understood and proven.
Effective advertising requires new levels of agility
Advertisers follow consumers to streaming platforms
Saw the beginnings of a recovery from brand advertisers, and continued resilience from direct response advertisers, reinforcing our confidence in the long-term positioning of our business.
As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.
Implemented a strategy to ensure advertisers investing in Snap found early and sustained success on our platform as they scaled with us, and we believe that the customer service our teams provided, the alignment on our brand safety principles, and the strong ROI that our advertising partners achieved all contributed to our growth this quarter.
We continued to add deep domain expertise under our verticalized sales model, allowing us to effectively serve advertisers of all types and sizes. This structure provided us with the flexibility to pivot resources this quarter to some of our fastest growing verticals including CPG, Streaming, Tech, Telco, Financial Services, and e-commerce
In addition, to support our partners through the pandemic and improve our marketing efforts, we launched Snap Focus, an online learning course for advertisers looking to create their first ad campaign on Snapchat, and Snap Connect, a new marketing program to educate global marketers about direct response advertising on Snapchat
We continue to invest heavily in ranking, optimization, and measurement in order to deliver measurable ROI for our advertising partners
Onboarded a record number of advertisers this quarter.
We are taking a holistic approach to e-commerce across sales, native commerce products, and ad tech, including our self-serve tools, lower-funnel optimization goals, and video ad formats
We continue to invest heavily in video advertising through Commercials, our non-skippable, full-screen video ad unit, and Snap Select, which enables buying of Commercials in prepackaged, fixed-price, premium inventory. First Commercial, which gives advertisers a way to reserve the first Commercial a Snapchatter sees during a Show
We recently added Places to our Map, which helps people learn more about the businesses around them and view hours and store reviews
In addition, the auditing of social media platforms by many advertisers and agencies, which occurred throughout the summer, was ultimately constructive towards building and expanding our relationships with many of these advertising partners.
These favorable operating conditions led to rapid growth in demand from our brand advertising partners, that built on top of the already strong growth trajectory of our direct response business, and together contributed to record high active advertisers and revenues in the quarter.
Commercials ad product more than doubled year-over-year in Q3 as we continue to see building demand from advertisers seeking to reach Gen Z and millennial audiences at scale, and with a full screen video advertising product that is delivered adjacent to brand safe content.
For the first time as a public company, we observed a rise in overall eCPM in Q3, driven by a combination of mix shift towards higher eCPM products such as Commercials, as well as a rapid rise in overall demand. Average eCPMs increased 20% year-over-year. However, we believe our eCPMs remain well below market rates for our audiences and ad units
The ongoing growth of our community, as well as deepening engagement within our app, continues to add more inventory opportunity to our ecosystem over time
In addition, advertising demand in Q4 has historically been bolstered by the holiday season in the latter portion of the quarter, and it is not clear at this time whether that key source of advertising demand will materialize in the same way this year as in prior years.
Assuming that the current favorable operating conditions persist, and that the holiday season materializes in line with what we have experienced in prior years, we believe that year-over-year revenue growth of 47% to 50% is attainable in Q4.
The Media Group had a sequential improvement. There were down 7% in the quarter. They had very good improvements during the quarter when it comes to growth trajectory.
Have good growth in the monthly active users if that is in news or in finance, we clearly see that our content is really aspiring and doing well with our customers in those areas.
Ad tech, especially the demand side platform is having quite a lot of new customers in these times which also shows the proof of all the transformation that we have done in the Media Group.
Our Q3 results largely reflect a continuation of demand trends we saw when we exited the second quarter. The strong demand in sales growth across our major product categories globally including hardlines, consumables, softlines and media. We also continue to see strong Prime member engagement. Prime members continue to shop with greater frequency and across more categories than before the pandemic began. They continue to expand their usage of Prime's digital benefits including Prime video.
3P sellers services revenue continues to grow faster than online stores revenue. With particularly strong growth this quarter in FBA, we return to a similar mix of FBA as a percentage of total 3P units as we've seen prior to COVID. 3P units continue to represent over half of overall unit volume increasing to 54% of the total unit mix in Q3.
Very strong advertising performance in Q3. So continuation of the trends that we saw in Q2. We start to see advertising budgets increase from some of the contraction that had occurred earlier in Q2 and we just had a lot more traffic and we do a good job of turning that traffic into valuable real estate for our advertisers and for our customers to find out more about selection and brand discovery.
Focused on making our tools easier to use. Sponsored ads, sponsored brand site, a bidding sponsored product targeting. Working on just simplifying registration for agencies and marketers, getting set up. But we're also very focused on being smarter about servicing more relevant ads to customers.
Making display ads easier and then increasing usability to Amazon demand site platform.
We're certainly in a unique position to be able to provide measurement services that help all these brands or understand the impact of other advertising in ways they're going to help them grow their business.
Video is one that we're working hard on with some of the OTT video advertising opportunities there. We're seeing some good momentum with that. We offer inventory and IMDB TV, ad supported space and 3P apps
In Q3, our total advertiser growth accelerated year over year. We’re investing in automation to make it easier for advertisers to use Pinterest and scale their spend. This disproportionately benefits small and medium sized advertisers, and revenue from this group continued to grow quickly in Q3. Automatic bidding for conversion objectives launched at the beginning of July and in Q3 represented more than half of conversion revenue, and automatic bidding for shopping ads launched in September.
In addition to spending their existing budgets more efficiently, the majority of early adopters of oCPM automatic bidding have increased their budgets on Pinterest. We plan to introduce more tools to automate ad campaigns in Q4 and in 2021. Investments to build out our international ads business have also continued to diversify our advertiser base, particularly in Western Europe, where we hired sales teams in the fall of 2019. The diversification of our advertiser base driven by technology and sales investment matters because it improves our ability to serve contextually relevant ads against growing search engagement.
Making Pinterest more shoppable.
Continue to benefit from marketers who are prioritizing positivity and brand safety. Advertisers tell us that Pinterest is brand safe relative to other consumer internet platforms. And we've benefited from this in Q3. Though, it's still not clear how sustainable this trend will be, particularly after the U.S. election is over.
Our current expectation is that Q4 revenue will grow around 60% year over year, a modest acceleration compared to our growth rate in Q320
We saw strength throughout the quarter, as advertisers around the world significantly increased their investment on Twitter, seeking to engage our much larger audience around their turn of events and increased or delayed product launches.
In the last three weeks of Q3, ad revenue was up 19% year-over-year, with fairly consistent daily growth rates during that period
As you know, we made revenue durability our highest priority this year and we're beginning to see the early results. With the ad server rebuild complete, we're moving faster and delivering more. We made progress on our brand and direct response products in Q3, with updated ad formats, improved measurement and better prediction.
We also continue to iterate on our revamped MAP offering and have decided to delay general availability into 2021, when we can integrate expected new industry standard mobile privacy requirements.
We introduced a number of new ad formats and targeting improvements to better serve brands in Q3
We see a clear path to driving more direct response advertising on Twitter over time. An improved MAP offering and more direct response ad formats could increase our addressable market and diversify our customer base, with more access to advertising demand that may be more resilient through an economic downturn, while building on our strengths in helping brands launch something new and connect with what’s happening.
By region, US advertising revenue totaled $428 million, an increase of 11% compared to a decrease of 25% last quarter, and international ad revenue was $381 million, up 20% compared to a decrease of 20% last quarter.
By sales channel, large to mid-tier customers continue to represent a sizable majority of our advertising revenue.
Total ad engagements increased 27%, driven by strong growth in ad impressions due to our growing audience and increased demand for ads. Cost per engagement (CPE) decreased 9%, driven by price decreases across most ad formats. As a reminder, CPE is an output of our ads auction process, and will vary from one period to another based on geographic performance, auction dynamics, the strength of demand for various ad formats, and campaign objectives.
As we look ahead to Q4, there is a lot to navigate — much of it unique to 2020. On the positive side, October looks a lot like September with events and product launches coming back and we are benefitting from all of the hard work we’ve done to make Twitter a must buy for advertisers looking to launch new products and services and connect with what’s happening. The strength and timing of the holiday shopping season is also likely to play out differently this year than it has historically, with a buying season that may be accelerated and even more digital than ever before.
We're also investing to create improved search experiences that provide additional value to news publishers. We recently committed $1 billion in investments that include licensing content from national, regional and local news publishers for Google News to showcase a new product that features the editorial curation of award winning newsrooms. We've signed partnerships with nearly 200 publications around the world. We know our success and surge is not guaranteed. We are proud that people choose Google search, not because they have to, but because it's helpful.
We remain committed to investing to build the most helpful, most trusted search experience. Just we have for the last 22 years. On that note regarding the DOJs lawsuit, we believe that our products are creating significant consumer benefits and will confidently make our case. Our company's focus remains on continuing our work to build a search product that people love and value.
Now 2.5 billion people around the world use one or more of our apps each day, more than 200 million businesses use our free tools, and there are more than 10 million active advertisers across our services. And most of these are small businesses
While we continue to invest in helping businesses, we are equally focused on keeping our platform safe. Last month, we took an important step by agreeing, along with YouTube and Twitter to a common set of definitions of hate speech and other harmful content. This was done in partnership with the World Federation of Advertisers and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media.
Our largest verticals were eCommerce, Retail, and CPG and we continue to see broad growth across sectors as advertisers continue to optimize for measurable objectives like sales and website visits.
The acceleration in advertising revenue growth from Q2 to Q3 was largely driven by strong advertiser demand resulting from the accelerated shift from offline to online commerce that we saw in connection with the pandemic. We are seeing particular strength among small and medium sized businesses. We are proud of the role that our services are playing in helping people stay connected and businesses reach consumers during these challenging and uncertain times.
In Q3, the total number of ad impressions served across our services increased 35% and the average price per ad decreased 9%. Impression growth was driven by both Facebook and Instagram. The decline in average price per ad was primarily driven by the ongoing mix shift towards geographies and Stories ads, which monetize at lower rates, although year-over-year pricing trends improved from the second quarter due to broad improvements in advertiser demand coupled with slower impression growth.
Turning now to revenue. We expect our Q4 year-over-year ad revenue growth rate to be higher than our reported Q3 rate driven by continued strong advertiser demand during the holiday season.
Traffic to our digital properties grew significantly. For example, People.com had its best traffic performance in its history and remains the number one destination in the entertainment category. AllRecipes, the world’s largest digital food site, had its best fiscal first quarter in its history. Year-over-year digital advertising revenues grew 15% to a record first quarter high. Importantly, we are encouraged by the continued sequential recovery we’re seeing since the fourth quarter and by the multiyear integrated partnerships we are signing with key advertisers.
Our multiyear project to bring all of our brands together on a single digital platform is driving strong consumer engagement, along with growth in advertising and e-commerce revenues. Among our enhancements, we launched the Meredith Data Studio during the first quarter of fiscal 2021. The data studio is aimed at bringing together our valuable first-party data and predictive insights to help clients improve returns from their advertising investments with us.
he new platform brings together consumer profiles, real-time insights and intense signals to: one, predict trends that inform our editorial and product road map; two, provide personalized experiences to our consumers; and three, give our advertisers the ability to tailor the right messages and products to the users most likely to buy at any given time. It also prepares us well for a world where third-party cookies are no longer supported.
Our new proprietary technology platform and data capabilities are already playing a role in recent wins, including an exciting new partnership with Walmart. For example, we have a new tool that matches items that consumers sees in Meredith articles, videos or pictures with retail products from Walmart in real time. The shop everything capability is powered by the Meredith proprietary AI-powered pairing engine. In the food category, the tool lets consumers take pictures of ingredients they have on hand, and it populates with recipes and meal ideas. Inspiration for these ideas can come from a user search history or from local trends. The tool creates a shopping list that’s linked directly to Walmart for store pickup or home delivery. We recognize there’s a lot of work to be done and the macroeconomic backdrop is still uncertain. But despite these challenges, we’re off to an encouraging start to fiscal 2021.
We are encouraged by the recovery of CPMs, which have sequentially continued since the onset of the COVID pandemic. We’re seeing particularly strong performance from our programmatic platform, as it offers the flexibility advertising clients are currently looking for. And looking beyond advertising, at the bottom right of the page, our licensing and e-commerce activities continued to gain traction, growing more than 20% in the first quarter, this includes Apple News+, content commerce and digital couponing activity
FOX News not only draws large audiences nationally, it also draws a more politically diverse audience in more strategically important states than any other cable news network. According to Nielsen, FOX News dominates share of viewing in swing states and key blue states. FOX News accounts for 50% of total primetime viewership in swing states, compared to MSNBC with 28%, and CNN with 23%. This is only possible because we speak to the broadest audience of anyone in our competitive set. Our audience includes the greatest number of registered independent and likely voters of any cable news network. FOX News is relied on by 38% of registered independents. This speaks directly to the quality of our journalism and the balance of our reporting.
People have noticed this year both presidential candidates and the pack supporting them have turned to FOX News to reach our large, engaged, and diverse audience. In fact, 28 different political candidates or groups advertised on FOX News during the month of October.
New York Times
Digital subscriptions are now not just the company's fastest growing and most important revenue stream, but also well on the way to becoming our largest. That's a milestone many years in the making and a testament to the enduring nature of our strategy.
Now you've heard us talk for some time about an addressable market of 100 million curious people worldwide who are likely to pay for the type of English language journalism The Times produces. We increasingly believe the market is at least that large, there are nearly a billion people around the world who read news digitally and more than 80 million who pay for news today.
It's easy to assume that more will do so in the future as people get more comfortable paying for digital subscriptions generally and as the supply of advertising-first alternative continues to face pressure.
The larger our subscriber base becomes, the more we can invest in our journalism and standalone products and the more we can spread our fixed cost across a wider base of users.
On election day, coverage brought 120 million readers to The Times and more than 75 million came the day before
The Times has a bigger role to play in people's lives, games and cooking together have nearly 1.4 million subscriptions and we'll continue to invest significantly in those products and other efforts like Wirecutter and audio.
We ended the third quarter with approximately 6.9 million total subscriptions and we crossed the 7 million mark already in the month of October, which means we've added more than 2 million digital subscriptions in the last year
Turning to advertising, our Digital results while down or slightly better than we expected. As we've told you for the last year or so, we've been steadily tilting the business back to the unique value of our media. Our first-party audience data used in privacy-forward ways has enabled pockets of growth in direct sold media and it's also now the foundation of a new thought leadership platform called Pivotal, which our Ad team launched during the quarter to help marketers consider their creative and brand strategies in the context of broad consumer insights.
Audio advertising has also been an area of continued resilience, driven by The Daily and in the third quarter, we entered into a multi-year augmented reality collaboration with Facebook and we also advanced our work with Verizon on 5G with the launch of our first 5G franchise.
As we said in previous quarters, the advertising business continues to be important to the company's economics, but we do not expect it to be a significant driver of growth in the near-term.
The Trade Desk
Continue to see rapid growth in key channels, such as connected TV, which grew more than 100% year-over-year.
Since April, we've been focused on understanding where we are on the economic recovery curve. Some industries, such as CPG, pharma and healthcare were on the leading edge of that curve, as we would expect. In fact, some companies in those industries never fully shutdown their digital advertising campaigns. Others are a little farther back, restaurants and retailers, for example. They needed to advertise that they were open and message what their new normal looked like in terms of pickup and delivery services. However, their businesses have not yet completely returned to normal. And then further down the curve, of course, you have other industries like, auto and airlines and hospitality that remain in various early stages of recovery.
We've spoken in the past about our 95%-plus retention rate, and we're seeing no deviation from that. In fact, I would assert that customers are relying on us more and more. I see that not only in our growth numbers and the trends underneath those numbers, but also in the conversations that I'm having with advertisers every day.
To some extent, this is history repeating itself. There are parallels to the 2008 and 2009 recession when programmatic advertising first came on the radar for most marketers. Back then display and mobile advertising were the big winners. They won despite being weaker at winning hearts and minds than video, TV or audio. They won share because they were measurable and comparable, and marketers can prove effectiveness with credibility.
And for the first time, advertisers are aggressively committing to the Open Internet because of the scale and results of connected TV and premium video.
We recently surveyed more than 200 top advertisers, around 85% of them said they are under new pressure from CFOs to justify marketing spend and to measure against business goals. 50% are now having their typical measurement techniques questioned. As a result, almost all of them intend to adopt data-driven measurement strategies.
three large U.S. media companies expect the number of U.S. households that subscribed to linear TV bundles will fall to about 50 million in the next five years. That is about 40% drop from here. At the same time, advertisers will be able to reach more than 80 million U.S. households via CTV on our platform this year.
Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, the world's largest advertiser, dropped a bombshell at the ANA conference a few weeks ago. He said that P&G would be moving away from the upfront model of TV ad buying. With TV advertising going digital, it makes no sense to make massive uninformed bets just because that's the way it's been done for decades. Now they can apply data to those decisions and be more deliberate. Relatedly, he also said that programmatic is their fastest growing advertising channel, which speaks to how P&G and other advertisers want to apply data and optimize campaigns across all channels.
The first question invariably concerns helping them shift from user generated content intent to premium TV content, that's because they are increasingly wary of the divisive nature of UGC, as we discussed in our last quarters update.
By contrast broadcast TV is a ticking time bomb, where the economics are unsustainable. The ad to content ratio creates a terrible viewer experience. The cost of cable for the consumer is high. So, not surprisingly the move to CTV is accelerating on the supplier side as well as on the consumer side.
We are focused on offering a compelling alternative to walled garden. One that enables a free and better Open Internet for all participants, for advertisers, data providers, content providers, and consumers.
As a key element in creating that compelling alternative, we have architected a new identity framework for the entire Open Internet, called Unified ID 2.0. It raises all boats, simply put and creates a better and open competitive internet, one that also improves privacy controls for consumers. We have done this with the help and collaboration players across the Open Internet, including governing and regulating bodies, such as the IAB.
Large publishers are implementing this solution now. Some of the biggest names on the internet are asking to be involved. The leaders of ad tech companies are working together to make this a success. This is much bigger than The Trade Desk. This is an industry-wide collaboration on a level that we have never seen before in our industry. Because of that, regardless of what Google ends up doing with cookies, we believe that the industry will have a better upgraded alternative for identity, that more effectively explains the value exchange of the internet and provides users with greater control and privacy.
I firmly believe that Unified ID 2.0 will reach critical mass and adoption next year. And in doing so as an industry, we will have created a viable scale alternative to third-party cookies, one that is also browser and device agnostic. It's an upgrade across the board.
The footprint of IDs that we're already working with is massive. In the last few days, you've heard that LiveRamp and Criteo will make their identity solutions interoperable with this. You've heard that Nielsen will be working with us to deploy Unified ID 2.0 for cross-channel measurement. And in the coming weeks, you'll start to hear from more advertisers and more publishers who are now part of this industry collaboration.
We anticipate most users will ultimately opt in to IDFA in order to continue to enjoy personalization of apps across their devices. That includes things like Spotify, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook, or thousands of other apps.
Geographically in Q3, similar to last quarter, North America represented 88% of spend and international represented 12% of spend. All of our major regions North America, APAC and Europe grew spend well into the double-digits year-over-year in Q3.
In terms of our verticals that represented at least 1% of our spend, nearly every category improved during the quarter, with many exhibiting strong resilience in the face of the economic uncertainty that Jeff discussed. In particular, health and fitness, our largest vertical in 2019, as well as technology and computing, food and drink, and home and garden, all performed well.
Automotive showed consistent improvement as well during the quarter, ending with double-digit growth in Q3. Travel still remains negative on a year-over-year basis, but even that category showed relative improvement during the quarter and is improved on a year-over-year basis versus Q2 performance. Shopping also showed a noticeable turnaround in Q3, ending with growth well into the double-digits.
Key drivers in the third quarter included political spending and the return of live sports, we saw strong performing verticals, including technology in home and garden, and trend improvement in weaker sectors, such as shopping and automotive. It’s also notable that even in regions where COVID case counts have recently increased. We have not seen interruptions or pauses in spend.
To start the fourth quarter, we’ve seen some more normalized seasonal patterns returning. This comes from retailers pushed to drive holiday shopping earlier than in pre – prior years, Prime Day in October continued strength from sports in new streaming TV content. We are seeing continued strong post-election year-over-year growth in CTV, even without the benefits of political spending.
We’ve also made progress in non-CTV video revenue, which returned to growth at 3% year-over-year pro forma growth for Q3. This is an area of focus we identified when we announced the merger
CTV continues to lead our growth because the drivers are powerful. We believe the events of this past year have significantly accelerated the adoption of the ads quarter programmatic CTV. These drivers are further acceleration of cord cutting, causing a faster disruption to the linear TV advertising world. There’s over 63 million or 38% of U.S. years in aggregate now unreachable by pay TV according to eMarketer, and projected 35% U.S. CTV ad spend growth in 2020.
As we’ve indicated previously, our most notable partners include the likes of Disney, Hulu, Sling, Pluto, DISH, Tubi and Roku device manufacturers, such as Samsung, Sony, LG, and Vizio and broadcasting cable partners like Discovery, Fox and NBC. On the publisher side, we help content providers monetize their inventory that runs through Roku, Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation and Xbox devices to name a few leaders.