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Digital media industry trends: 7/31/20

As we wrap up July, we're hopeful for continued industry growth in the second part of the year.. Some of the main trends we are seeing emerge: while the second half of the year starts off slow, some advertiser categories...

By Paul Bannister

As we wrap up July, we’re hopeful for continued industry growth in the second part of the year..

Some of the main trends we are seeing emerge: while the second half of the year starts off slow, some advertiser categories are growing right now, and although redirect ads are spiking across the industry, CafeMedia publishers generally aren’t feeling the effects.

July advertising trends 

 As we’ve mentioned in recent posts, many advertisers end their fiscal year (and campaigns) on June 30, and July is one of the slowest months of the year. It typically takes a few weeks for new campaigns to start, but it takes even longer for advertisers to reoptimize campaigns and get them working at full steam. 

July 2020 was no exception, but considering the lower starting point than July 2019 and the current economy, day to day and week to week trends were relatively stronger this year. We expect August to also be “fine but not great”, and in September are hoping to see some real traction.

There is still significant risk that the economy could go south or advertisers could get very cautious again as they did back in March, April and part of May. With the way things have been holding up so far, we’re hopeful they will continue to slowly increase spending. 

Sports are one reason for optimism! Advertisers usually devote significant spending around sporting events. While some leagues are back, they have much shorter schedules right now and larger events like the Olympics are canceled or postponed. That money has to be spent somewhere, and digital advertising is an easy place for advertisers to redirect their budgets. 

In July vs. June, some categories saw significant increases in advertiser spending:

  • Retail, as retailers came back into the market after big pullbacks earlier this year
  • Media & Entertainment, with the launch of platforms like HBO Max and NBC Peacock 
  • Home, as consumers continue to work on DIY projects
  • Quick Serve Restaurants (for example, Panera Bread), with the reduced need for home cooking and consumers looking for easy meals outside of the home

July saw heavy redirect campaigns across the industry

Malvertising redirect campaigns are an unfortunate part of the advertising industry. Bad actors have only gotten more sophisticated with how they serve these obnoxious campaigns — focusing on timeframes like the weekend when they know companies are short-staffed and redirect ads are more likely to run in high volume, unchecked.

While we’ve seen redirect ad campaigns ramp up since the start of the pandemic this spring, July 2020 saw a marked increase, with extremely aggressive redirect campaigns from many different SSPs and DSPs (Supply Side and Demand Side platforms) every weekend. 

Thanks to our partnership with Confiant, whose technology monitors and blocks bad ad impressions before they end up on the page, CafeMedia publishers escaped the full brunt of these redirects. In fact, we received minimal reports of any redirect activity on CafeMedia sites this month.