Digital media industry trends,12/18/20

T-minus-13 days until we end the strangest and most challenging year in the history of digital media.  Despite many hurdles in the middle of the year, we’re seeing the industry put on a relatively strong finale here at the tail...

By Paul Bannister

T-minus-13 days until we end the strangest and most challenging year in the history of digital media. 

Despite many hurdles in the middle of the year, we’re seeing the industry put on a relatively strong finale here at the tail end of Q4. Still, we anticipate a cautious Q1, with potentially a steeper-than-average ad spending drop and a slower recovery.

That makes January the perfect time to focus on planning and strategy, laying a solid foundation for the rest of the year, and we have some resources to help with that as well!

What we’re seeing with advertising trends

The fourth quarter of 2020 is almost in the books. Not only have there been lots of ups and downs throughout the year, but Q4 has had its own roller coaster ride. Considering where the industry was back in March, April, and May of this year, Q4 was much stronger than we feared during those dark days. 

However, this Q4 wasn’t as strong as we might have hoped at the beginning of the year. Marketers and advertisers, understandably, have taken very different approaches to ad spending this holiday season than in past years.

Fortunately, many publishers across our network saw their traffic increase significantly due to more consumers staying at home and consuming more content of all types. This overall increase in traffic, plus relatively stable RPMs, made 2020 a strong revenue year for most. With Christmas Day still on the horizon, we expect December to wrap up as strong, if not stronger than November.

Prepare for the Q1 drop

Advertiser spending always drops off after Christmas Day (December 25), year after year — with January 1 representing the lowest day for ads, industry-wide.

While 2020 has taught us not to be surprised at anything, that’s one prediction we can make with absolute certainty: after December 25, you’ll start to see a strong decrease in RPM, with a steep dropoff starting the first week of January. 

Both for companies that run their fiscal year from January to December, and for companies where January starts the second half of their fiscal year, New Year’s Day represents a major reset for budgeting. Holiday shopping is over, consumers’ budgets are tighter. It’s time to launch new ad campaigns, based on previous performance and predictions for the future.

Combine completely normal budgeting patterns with all the uncertainty and caution that surrounds a global pandemic, and January 2021 RPMs may see even deeper drops and slower recovery than in past years.

We’re monitoring everything closely and all throughout Q4 have been preparing for Q1. Our sales team has already locked in CafeMedia-exclusive campaigns for the new year, supplementing lower programmatic ad spending with premium direct deals. 

Advertiser spending is also just one piece of the RPM equation there are other levers we can pull together, so we’re always working to optimize ad impressions, improve time on site, and bring in more traffic!

Get ready for New Year’s traffic with these content insights

Planned New Year’s travel is down this year but last-minute trips may still be in the cards

Only 15% will be traveling for New Year’s celebrations and, of those, 45% are doing so to visit with family and friends. 

However, many people have been making last-minute bookings this holiday season, so tips for traveling safely, quick getaway and road trip ideas, great travel deals, etc., are of interest right now. 

Many will be celebrating the new year from home this year

Most people will be staying in this holiday and looking for inspiration to celebrate at home:

  • Virtual events to tune into such as the New Year’s Ball Drop at Times Square — they’ve announced they will be broadcasting the event online this year
  • Virtual activities such as Zoom parties with friends, online game ideas, virtual ways to celebrate
  • Recipes for more intimate gatherings such as New Year’s Eve appetizers or dinner recipes, or New Year’s Day brunch ideas 
  • Cocktail and toast ideas
  • Fun outfits and ideas to dress up at home
  • Activities for the kids such as crafts, games, and sparklers

Making resolutions to own 2021

74.02% of the population will be making a New Year’s resolution for 2021, a 15.17% increase from last year.

This year, people are also feeling optimistic, with 74.72% saying that they think their resolution is accomplishable

Taking a closer look at the breakdown by generation, we see that younger generations are most likely to make a resolution, but those in the older generations are most likely to focus on health. 

Resolution-makers are looking for content around: 

  • Ideas for achievable resolutions
  • Tips for staying accountable
  • Helpful printables to help them track their goals
  • Motivational quotes