In our last biweekly trends post, we anticipated the start of a new quarter and celebrated some recent wins that set AdThrive publishers up for success in the second half of the year. Today, we’re seeing how our Q3 predictions are unfolding so far, answering a publisher question on “direct deals”, unpacking the Facebook boycott and what it means for AdThrive publishers, and putting out your last call to participate in Summer Camp 2020 for some fun swag.
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Q3 is showing promising consistency with years past
Like we mentioned last time, July not only starts a new quarter, but also starts 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 tick upwards 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!
What do we mean when we talk about “direct sales” or “direct advertiser deals”?
“Direct sales” and “direct deals” are something we talk about a lot here on the AdThrive blog and we’ve recently gotten some questions on what this means: do direct deals refer to specific ad campaigns for specific websites in our community?
For some background, most ad management companies rely exclusively on advertising technology companies to bring their publishers revenue. Advertising technology companies called Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) and Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) are intermediaries between publishers (or ad management firms) and the actual advertisers on the other side.
When ad management firms talk about “advertisers they work with”, they’re rarely talking about actual advertisers, but rather about the intermediaries that bring them those ads. The following simplified graphic shows a basic overview of how things generally work:
At AdThrive, we certainly work with advertising technology companies — significant advertising revenue comes through those channels.
But our sales team also works directly with advertisers, to go straight to where the money comes from and cut out “hops” in the process of getting money from them to our publishers. When we talk about sales/deals that are “direct”, we’re typically talking about deals our sales team negotiates with advertisers based on a specific audience or specific content — for example “Women over 30 who are interested in XYZ”.
AdThrive direct deals are where we work personally with true advertisers, using our data to help them reach their perfect audience across our family of sites!
The Facebook Advertiser Boycott — what does it mean for AdThrive publishers?
The strength of our direct-to-advertiser efforts and sales team is reflected in what we’re seeing 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 AdThrive publishers’ sites for quite some time. But we’ve certainly noticed 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.
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 in April and May 2020 than they were in 2019. In June, their spending was up over 116% more than 2019! July is also trending to be in the triple-digit growth range.
This all makes sense given the aggregate scale and quality of AdThrive publishers — larger than all of Disney internet properties (which includes ESPN, ABC, ABC News, Walt Disney World, Disney TV, Disney Movies, and many more brands)!
Content alert: 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. The AdThrive community holds much of the best content on the internet, so it’s no surprise that people turn to your content for education and inspiration.
Knowing that 2020’s event and holiday content is seeing such large spikes this year, make sure you have these two upcoming events on your calendar:
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. How can you help your readers enjoy Labor Day in the time of COVID-19?
Last call for AdThrive Summer Camp!
There’s still time to jump in, join the fun, and complete the challenges aimed at optimizing your site and RPMs alongside your fellow summer campers in the AdThrive Community Facebook group. July 17 is the deadline for finishing all five assignments if you want in on this year’s camp prize (always some fun AdThrive swag!), but these resources will be available to you all year round.