How COVID-19 Is Impacting Advertising in Publisher Newsletters
As we’ve entered the 6th week of shutdown (or is it 7th? Honestly who can keep track at this point?), publishers are still struggling with monetizing during this crisis. And, unfortunately, it has resulted in layoffs, furloughs, and pay decreases. In March, BuzzFeed announced salary reductions for the majority of employees, while in April, Bustle Digital Group laid off two dozen staffers and implemented pay cuts. But it’s not just global publications; the pandemic has also hit local publications, as Poytner points out in this depressing list of layoffs to date.
Why is this happening? Although they are seeing significant levels of traffic, they aren’t always able to convert that to revenue, especially as marketers shy away from advertising next to COVID-19 related content. Some publishers have even taken down their paywalls to make sure that the public has access to important coronavirus content during this crisis. This is a terrific, reader-centric move, but it also impacts their subscription revenue.
It is imperative that publishers survive this crisis not only for their own future, but for the well-being of democracy. The industry must address this revenue issue. One such way for publishers to circumvent the problems that face the rest of the digital landscape is newsletters. But how has the pandemic impacted advertising in publisher newsletters?
To find out, we compared email newsletter metrics on the LiveIntent platform between the first weeks of March and April for ad spend, impressions, click-through rates, and conversions. Below are a few tips for publishers who are leaning on newsletters on what content is resonating with consumers and which brands are still spending.
Everyone Needs Food
We saw a 43% increase in ad spend among food and drink marketers. And ROI is there, as the click-to-conversion rate almost doubled in that same time period. Food and cooking content consumption has skyrocketed YoY now that people are sheltered in their homes and searching for ways to have food delivered safely or how to cook a delicious meal. In fact, Statista found that 62% of US consumers are cooking more during COVID than ever. This is a prime opportunity for this category to reach consumers.
Distractions Are Welcome
In today’s new normal, it’s not just food that consumers are hungry for. As consumers look to de-stress, they are actively searching for distraction and self improvement. Because of this, advertisers that are part of the Hobbies & Interests category are driving a 32% more efficient cost-per-acquisition during this time. Even more astounding, education advertisers also saw a decrease in cost per acquisition of about 60%.
We Live In a Tech-Focused Society
As consumers sit in front of their computers to connect with the outside world, technology and computing advertisers are driving the biggest increase in conversion rates out of all other categories with a jump of over 100%. Software that helps consumers find and apply discounts for online shopping, as well as software that protects their computers from viruses and malware were of particular interest to consumers during this time period. These advertisers are also among the top three categories to increase ad spend, as well. This represents a clear win-win for advertisers and publishers.
This data shows that the monetization of email newsletters is still a healthy revenue stream for publishers during coronavirus. Why? Unlike other channels, emails are truly people-based. They are logged-in, opened by real people, and engaged with as people are present and paying attention. As a result, brands are finding value in advertising to consumers via newsletters during coronavirus. Additionally, newsletters provide an additional layer of brand safety for marketers since they are from carefully curated and trusted sources. As the quarantine continues nationally for at least several more weeks, publishers who have invested in their email newsletters are poised to come out on top.
Related story: 5 Crucial Tips for Making Your Newsletter a Success
Kerel is the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at LiveIntent. He currently leads the marketing team and works closely with sales, product, engineering and customer success to create awareness and generate leads for key products and features. Kerel has 20 years of digital media experience building and leading Advertising Operations, Account Management, Partnerships & Product Marketing teams. Prior to LiveIntent, Kerel Cooper held positions at Advance Digital as the Senior Director Ad Platform Strategies and JupiterMedia as Director of Advertising Operations. Kerel has his Bachelor’s degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and a MBA from Regis University.