Coronavirus and digital media industry trends: 6/12/20

It’s your biweekly update on the latest across the ad and publishing industries! We’re exploring what early June may mean for summer ad spending trends, looking at what Memorial Day traffic foreshadows for upcoming holidays, and sharing three important things...

By Paul Bannister

It’s your biweekly update on the latest across the ad and publishing industries! We’re exploring what early June may mean for summer ad spending trends, looking at what Memorial Day traffic foreshadows for upcoming holidays, and sharing three important things you can add to your calendar this month. 

Summer advertiser spending

Many advertisers set monthly budgets, which means a few things:

  1. The beginning of the month is generally light as advertisers launch new budgets. Some start spending immediately but others can take a few days as they iron out the details.
  2. Leading up to the last few days of a month tend to be the highest spending points in a month since advertisers have had the entire month to optimize their strategies so they can spend most effectively.
  3. At the very end of a month, some budgets run out, so the last day or two tend to have lower advertiser spending.

That first point is what we’re most interested in today, as we’re rounding out the beginning of June. June started like a normal month — a little lighter than peak spending at the end of May. The slowness continued a little longer than usual this June because some advertisers participated in #BlackoutTuesday on June 2 and didn’t start new budgets until after that. 

While this meant that the beginning of June was low for longer than usual, it’s having a positive impact now. Advertisers’ budgets for a month are set in advance, so if they start spending late, they still spend the same amount of money, just faster. The slow start has led to a huge bump in spending over the last few days.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but so far the ad recovery is moving along well, with significant RPM gains for many CafeMedia publishers, including some numbers reaching pre-COVID levels. 

We continue to see spikes in spend from advertisers who work directly with us (rather than through open market programmatic buying). This means the CafeMedia community is seeing ad spending that’s better than industry averages lately!

What’s next?

We’re still paying very close attention to advertiser needs, as any spike in coronavirus cases or other major global/national trends may put a damper on their spending patterns again.

Looking forward, the start of July is usually the second-weakest time of year (next to January) when it comes to advertiser spending. Many large advertisers have fiscal years that run from July to June, so July is effectively their January. 

Annual advertiser spending trends are similar to monthly spending trends, but on a larger scale. So for these big advertisers who are resetting their budgets for a new year at the beginning of July, it usually takes a few weeks for them to get things set up efficiently and to start spending. 

Celebratory content trends

We’re continuing to see readers leaning into celebrations with more passion than ever, so our insights team dove into Memorial Day data to see what trends we can expect in the next few months. 

1. Readers are more excited than ever about reasons to celebrate

Comparing 2019 Memorial Day-themed traffic to this year illuminates just how much more of a focus there is on holidays right now.

Not only was overall traffic much higher, the “holiday bump” was that much more pronounced this year. 

2. It’s not that readers are doing things differently, they’re just doing them with more intensity

We were interested in finding out how much COVID-19 changed what holiday content people were most interested in — and surprisingly, it didn’t change too much.

Comparing the most popular Memorial Day content overall this year versus last year reveals that readers are still looking to celebrate in their traditional ways: cookoffs, lots of macaroni salad, and fun activities for the kids.

What does this mean for Father’s Day and Independence Day? 

We’re expecting the celebrations to continue — and reader interest to be higher than normal.

Raising money for racial justice

CafeMedia publishers have been doing incredible things lately and using their influence to address systemic racism in many ways over the last few weeks. 

When we introduced the CafeMedia Community Matching Fund last week, several publishers immediately asked if they could involve their readers in this effort. We absolutely love that!

Together, CafeMedia publishers, publishers’ communities of readers, and CafeMedia team members have submitted over $34,000 for matching in the first week! With the CafeMedia Community Matching Fund, that’s now $68,000 to support organizations fighting for racial justice — and we’re excited to see this continue to grow.

Our matching program runs through June 30, and we’ve updated the donation form to include the option for CafeMedia publishers to aggregate their readers’ donations for us to match. Here’s how:

  • CafeMedia publishers may collect receipts from their readers and verify the donation is to a 501(c)(3) organization
  • You submit them to us in aggregate, through this form
  • We’ll match up to $10,000 from any CafeMedia publisher, including readers’ pooled contributions, up to the $100,000 fund total!