Coronavirus and digital media industry trends: 5/8/20

This week's update, looks at the early implications of Google's core update and the latest consumer insights into reader interests and spending behavior.  Google’s May 2020 Core Update Just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, it doesn’t mean...

By Paul Bannister

This week’s update, looks at the early implications of Google’s core update and the latest consumer insights into reader interests and spending behavior. 

Google’s May 2020 Core Update

Just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, it doesn’t mean that everything else stops. On May 4, Google confirmed that they’re rolling out a broad core algorithm update. These types of updates herald “significant, broad changes” with “widely notable effects” to how Google ranks results in search results. 

It’s still early, but we see some emerging trends: 

  1. It was big and broad. This change appears to have affected search results in large ways across many verticals. Often, a core update may focus in some areas and avoid others, but it does not seem that this was the case this time.
  2. COVID-19 was likely a factor. Because users’ search activity is a factor in rankings, their behavior changes in categories like travel, real estate, health, etc. is changing the way Google is ranking things. This is likely contributing to the News vertical being one of the biggest early winners from this change.
  3. Google Discover is also affected by the change. Like other core algorithm changes, this change has affected Google Discover, so publishers who get traffic via that source may also see changes.

We’re monitoring this closely. The rollout hasn’t completely finished yet (Google’s Danny Sullivan will post when it is complete) so when it is done, we’ll be able to get a better read on any changes we can recommend to publishers to adapt to this new change.

Understanding your readers right now

Sharing consumer insights is one of the ways our ad sales team is helping ad partners adapt their spending habits to these quickly-changing times. We work hard to bring them unique perspectives and ideas for pivoting campaigns and reaching consumers exactly where they are right now. It’s a win-win for advertisers and CafeMedia publishers!

This week, our data team put their finger on the pulse of some fascinating trends that we thought you would also find interesting. The better you can understand your readers’ new priorities and interests, the better you can connect them to your content!

First, people are facing lots of uncertainty right now, from emotions to finance. They’re dealing with job fear and losses. Quarantines and self-isolation is putting a strain on relationships. It’s all getting exhausting.

To deal with these uncertainties, people are looking for ways to take control of their situation. Tangible things they can do right now — today — to move forward. Taking care of their families, taking care of their possessions, and making progress for the future. Content that helps them feel control over their circumstances will do well right now.

Another way people are dealing with uncertainty is by seeking out indulgences. Despite financial fears, certain things that might have been considered luxuries in the past are becoming normal expenditures. “Treat yo’self” is a key theme at the moment. How can you help your readers distract themselves?

It’s a complicated time and we’re seeing interesting patterns of conflicting values emerging. 

People are interested in pragmatism and indulgence. They’re saving money by DIYing and deal hunting, but they are also comfortable prioritizing self-care and even a little decadence.

Traditions hold a lot of comfort right now, but folks are feeling a little stir crazy and are open to reinvention. They’re trying new hair colors, remodeling, and working on themselves.

The collective spirit may be one of the most heartwarming things to see come out of all this, as people work harder than ever to connect with one another. At the same time, people are also feeling a pull to self-reliance. If they can’t buy it right now, they will learn how to make it — and just maybe they’ll do it even better themselves.

As you’re creating and promoting content, we suggest you tap into these major tensions right now and give your readers exactly what they’re looking for.

We’ll continue to post updates on a weekly basis and any time we have valuable information to share. In the meantime, please check out our past Coronavirus updates.