Digital media industry trends: 7/10/20

In our last biweekly trends post, we anticipated the start of a new quarter and celebrated some recent wins that set CafeMedia publishers up for success in the second half of the year. Today, we’re seeing how our Q3 predictions...

By Paul Bannister

In our last biweekly trends post, we anticipated the start of a new quarter and celebrated some recent wins that set CafeMedia publishers up for success in the second half of the year. Today, we’re seeing how our Q3 predictions are unfolding so far and unpacking the Facebook boycott and what it means for CafeMedia publishers.

Like we mentioned last time, July not only starts a new quarter but also a new fiscal year for many advertisers. That means the beginning of Q3, (and really the very end of Q2), is the second weakest time of year for advertising following January. 

From mid-March to mid-May, the advertising market was highly affected by COVID-19, and some advertisers cut their spending partially or completely. During that time frame, we saw very different trends from years past, making it difficult to forecast what might come next. Now, we’re beginning to see trends that are more consistent with previous years. Assuming no new economic shifts due to COVID-19, we can have a little more confidence about where things are headed. 

Based on past years, July tends to be fairly low until the middle of the month, where brands launch more of their campaigns and ad spend starts to tick upwards. That slight upward trend continues through August, but ad spending grows relatively slowly during the Northern Hemisphere summer. September is when things really start to increase in Q3, since it’s where brands are getting ready for heavy fourth quarter spending. 

That’s consistent with what we’ve seen so far and relatively consistent with the trends we have seen in years past. Consistency isn’t something we’ve had a lot of recently, so we’re happy to see this!

The Facebook Advertiser Boycott — what does it mean for CafeMedia publishers?

The strength of CafeMedia’s direct-to-advertiser efforts and sales team is reflected in what we’re seeing across our network with respect to a number of major advertisers’ newly implemented Facebook boycott, “Stop Hate for Profit”. 

Advertisers reducing spend on Facebook isn’t a new trend, and it’s something we’ve seen in our data with increased spend on CafeMedia publishers’ sites for quite some time. But we’ve certainly seen an acceleration in the last few months, and are seeing even more now that July is upon us.

Investment bank LUMA Partners assembled the graphic below to show many of the brands that have joined the boycott so far. 

Image used by permission from Luma Partners

We looked at 20 of the largest advertisers participating in the boycott to see how their spend has been increasing across our network.

Even pre-boycott, the trend has been significant. 

Despite COVID-19 impacts on advertising, those brands were spending 34% more with CafeMedia publishers in April and May 2020 than they were in 2019. In June, their spending was up over 116% over 2019! July is also trending to be in the triple-digit growth range. 

Holidays are bigger than ever!

Based on how holidays like Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s day went this year, we expected the Fourth of July to come with a larger-than-normal boost of traffic as well. And we were not disappointed! Traffic patterns show us that holidays are particularly treasured these days:

When times are tough, people look for reasons to celebrate. 

Knowing that 2020’s event and holiday content is seeing such large spikes this year, publishers should be sure to have these two upcoming events on their calendars:

1. Back to School

Browsing for back to school content is starting already. We’re halfway through the summer and parents are already thinking about what happens next, from advice to educational resources, food content (lunches and meal planning), to product recommendations. Fall 2020 will look very different for many families., so there’s a strong content opportunity here.

2. Labor Day

Typically, Labor Day content interest is more restricted to the days around the holiday itself, so it will be interesting to see if/how that changes this year. Long weekends are more needed than ever, but travel and get-together plans will probably change from years past.