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Digital media industry trends, 10/9/20

One week into Q4, and despite the expected beginning of quarter dip, RPMs are seeing year-over-year improvement, predicting a strong quarter ahead.  In today’s post, we’ll also look at how upcoming uncertainty in politics, the economy, and reader behavior may...

By Paul Bannister

One week into Q4, and despite the expected beginning of quarter dip, RPMs are seeing year-over-year improvement, predicting a strong quarter ahead. 

In today’s post, we’ll also look at how upcoming uncertainty in politics, the economy, and reader behavior may come into play over the coming weeks. 

Plus, our data team is previewing results from an exciting new study to help you poise your content for success heading into the holiday season!

Ad spending trends

The start of a new quarter (in this case, the fourth quarter) is always slower than the end of the previous quarter, and the beginning of October is no different. 

Because of that, it can sometimes be hard to gauge site performance.

But a great way to get a better handle on how a site is doing is to look at year-over-year trends; in this case, compared to the first week of October 2019. 

From a full-network level, when we look at the first week of October 2020 compared to the first week of October 2019, we’re feeling bullish about Q4. The year-over-year spending trends are strong and are maintaining the year-over-year increase we saw in September — which, as many CafeMedia publishers experienced, was quite spectacular! 

If these lift numbers hold up, this Q4 will be the best ever, which is quite an accomplishment, considering the challenges 2020 has brought.

That said, there are a number of question marks. 

Uncertainty in the US over the next few months

The US presidential election is impending, and depending on who wins (and how long it takes to determine), the US and world economies could take a turn for the worse. 

Also, in the US financial stimulus packages from earlier this year are expiring, and it’s unclear what (if any) new stimulus packages could be put in place. Airlines (and other industries) are starting to furlough and lay off workers, and all of this could have a negative impact on the economy and, by extension, ad spending.

Potential shifts to traffic patterns

Site traffic is also a big question mark. Many CafeMedia publishers saw large traffic spikes earlier this year as consumers sought news related to the Coronavirus and content related to the “new normal”. 

The largest traffic spikes have subsided, but traffic is still up substantially for many publishers. As the holiday season approaches, these traffic surges could fall back closer to normal, or if large-scale lockdowns come back into play, could grow even more. 

Our prediction is that we expect year-over-year traffic lift to stay fairly consistent for most publishers, but these are unpredictable times, and we would not be surprised to see more volatility.

On the whole, we’re optimistic for Q4, but there are a lot of question marks and we’re making sure we’re prepared for all contingencies. 

Holiday insights to drive your next few weeks of content

American Thanksgiving is 48 days away. Christmas is still 77 days away. But consumers are already in holiday mode.

Our data and insights team began seeing higher-than-normal fall and winter holiday interest beginning in July, following distinctly altered but larger-than-life celebrations of summer holidays like Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and the Fourth of July

Recently, we conducted an online study surveying 500 women ages 18-54 who were nationally representative by age, region, and motherhood, make purchase decisions in the household, and celebrate winter holidays. 

We use the gathered insights in a few different ways — to help CafeMedia publishers create and optimize content to capitalize on reader interest, and to fuel our sales team’s efforts, bringing advertisers unique data on how they can best accomplish their goals by advertising on our network.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the results:

  • 86% say the holidays are more important than ever
  • 85% are looking to the holidays to provide an escape
  • 3 in 4 respondents say they look to the internet for holiday gift inspiration
  • 65% of consumers say they will have more time to plan for the holidays this year
  • And they’re starting earlier — 73% will start shopping before Thanksgiving
  • When it comes to meal-planning, 77% say their timeline won’t change too much from 2019
  • But when it comes to travel, almost half are unsure of their plans so far