We’re excited to continue our digital media industry trends series into a new year with a new monthly format with more industry analysis, insider tidbits, and resources than ever!
In this edition, you’ll find:
- A quick review of January RPMs and ad spending
- Some fascinating advertiser spending trends we’re seeing unfold
- Seven macroeconomic trends that may impact ad spending throughout the year
- Why you shouldn’t get too hyped about Google’s FLoC announcement just yet
- A heads up on Google’s mobile-first indexing headed our way in a few weeks
- Your guide to February’s trending topics for the content you create and the way you promote it
We’re just about a month into the new year, and so far it’s what we expected. RPMs are up year-over-year, slightly, with the end of January looking better than the beginning.
By a quirk of calendars, this year started much more slowly than last. Last year, January 1 was a Wednesday, with advertisers back in the office on January 2 and restarting their ad campaigns before the weekend. With New Year’s Day falling on a Friday this year, the long holiday weekend delayed things by a few additional days, but advertisers began making up the difference a little later into the month.
We’re cautiously optimistic for the rest of Q1 as the trend is moving in the right direction, and the rollout of COVID vaccines should propel advertiser exuberance over the coming months.
If the US government approves more stimulus, that announcement will encourage brands to spend more on advertising to capture the fresh money flowing into household budgets. Then, as consumer dollars flow into the advertised goods and services, it will lead to more advertiser spending to nurture that relationship with consumers.
Some fascinating advertiser spending trends we’re seeing unfold
In January, we saw many advertisers demonstrating continuity and stability, despite the ongoing uncertainty of 2021.
We compared the first three weeks of January this year, to the first three weeks of January 2020, to understand if and how the advertising landscape is changing, and what this might mean for the rest of the year.
1. Lots of repeat advertisers are spending on AdThrive sites. Of the top 100 advertisers by spend so far this year, the majority were also top spenders this time last year. It’s a welcome consistency that demonstrates advertisers’ confidence in digital advertising and the high-quality audiences they can reach through AdThrive publishers.
2. You can definitely still see COVID’s influence on advertiser spending. While performance was strong across multiple categories, outperformance in some areas compared to last year reminds us that we’re all still trying to social distance.
Brands that are keeping us connected, fed, and cozy (telecom, tech, food delivery & quick-service restaurants, and home brands) saw the most growth in spend compared to this time last year.
3. Small businesses are spending more this year. One of our favorite discoveries was seeing this strong spend not just among the largest advertisers, but also among small businesses!
On a relative basis, we’re seeing small businesses invest almost 3x what they were last year at this time. We’re loving that small businesses are turning to other small businesses like yours to make deeper connections with customers.
Looking further into 2021, macroeconomic trends predict the future of ad spend
Current estimates predict the majority of people in the US will be fully vaccinated by mid-year. As a result, many financial institutions are predicting a major consumer rebound in the second half of the year.
Once the world starts opening back up again, we expect to see seven major macroeconomic trends impacting ad spend — head to this post to get the full details on each trend and how you as a publisher can prep for them.
2021 will be a year of transition across the advertising ecosystem
2021 is going to be a huge year of transition in the digital advertising world as we move away from third-party cookies and cross-site tracking. At AdThrive, we’re pursuing a number of paths as we work with many across the entire ecosystem to make the web more private for users while protecting publisher revenue and making sure ads still work well for advertisers.
But many of the discussions continue to be very technical and arcane, and many of the headlines coming out of these in-progress solutions are misleading or just not true.
For example, there was a recent announcement from Google that one of the alternatives to third-party cookies (called “FLoC”) is 95% as effective as current advertising. That is unfortunately false.
Google’s analysis was done entirely as a theoretical exercise, not actually a real-world experiment. We’re optimistic that FLoC, TURTLEDOVE, or some of the many other proposals being worked on by Google and many others (including us!) will help make the new world of advertising just as strong as it is today, but it’s not there yet. We’ll share more on the status of many parts of Google’s Privacy Sandbox soon!
Google mobile-first indexing [finally] coming in March
Google has been talking about moving to mobile-first indexing for several years now. It’s been the default for all new sites for over a year, but now Google will switch their process for every site to base search rankings on the site’s mobile version in March 2021.
What does this mean for publishers?
With mobile-first indexing, the mobile version of your site should have the exact same primary content as the desktop version of your site, because it’s the only version that Googlebot will crawl now. This should certainly be the case for most content creators and AdThrive publishers already, so the odds are that your site is ready for this update.
You can easily test to make sure that your site is ready for mobile-first indexing using Google’s mobile-friendly page test. But with a mobile-responsive theme in place that translates the desktop version of your site into a good experience on mobile devices, publishers should be all set for March 2021!
Trending topics for February 2021
As you’re planning your content calendar for 2021, the AdThrive insights team is excited to help, with new AdThrive publisher-exclusive reports on the biggest upcoming trends, like what a mid-pandemic Super Bowl will look like.
Use these trending topics for keywords in your posts, social media, or email promotion to take advantage of your readers’ interest and drive more traffic!