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The COVID-19 outbreak is causing a lot of turbulence in present times. Economies and societies are experiencing a tremendous crisis that will permanently change the world we know. The financial crisis and mass quarantines are not only having a serious impact on people’s mental health but also reshaping our perception of current reality, and the reality to come. In this article, we will look at the our Publishers condition during the COVID-19 crisis so as to ascertain the extent to which this unprecedented period is affecting their business.
Considering the spread of the coronavirus, Yieldbird team members have decided to operate remotely in totality so as to limit any health risks to our employees. All of our business activities remain unchanged, and we are closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 on our Publishers’ condition. Some Publishers are treating the situation as an opportunity to spread their content to a wider audience; many are also blocking questionable advertisements on their websites in order to prevent the spread of misinformation.
To sum up the month of May, it can be said that the number of requests fell consistently, with users taking advantage of the relaxation of lockdown and the good weather. Globally, performance throughout May grew steadily in inverse proportions to the decline in requests. As a result, revenues remained stable.
News Publishers: definitely less traffic, and it can be said that the request bubble is over. Performance returned to February levels.
Other sectors: most industries either remained stable or saw a slight decline. Travel and tourism are still in a state of stasis.
Adwords: the charts reflect the global trend as outlined in the first point above. Both Adwords and other buyers have increased rates in view of the shrinking inventory. As a result, competition is getting stronger.
Comparing Q1 and Q2 of 2020 to Q1 and Q2 of 2019, we can clearly see the Covid-request bubble occurring in the March of this year. Revenues in January and February 2020 were higher than those in 2019, but since March the trend has reversed – no increases are expected in the near future. May 2020 looked very good when compared to last year’s indicators. Despite fewer requests, performance was much better. Graphs for Poland, as compared to the global picture, showed practically the same trends, but the curves are flatter. So we can say that May was a good month, one where even Programmatic revenues exceeded May 2019 (by 2%!).
To sum up April, it can be said that the request “bubble” ended and that rCPM is slowly and steadily on the rise. Even though the results are lower than those noted in February, the stable trend bodes well for the future.
Changes with news publishers look almost exactly as above. Fewer requests, revenue slightly down, but with rCPM and eCPM somewhat on the up.
E-commerce – traffic levels returned to that seen at the end of February. If such levels remain stable, we can expect a rebound in the falling rCPM trend.
Autos & Vehicles has joined our pool of “declining” industries. These are not drastic changes but this sector is systematically reducing expenditures week on week.
Adword saw a continuation of the trend from last week. eCPMs, Adwords and other buyers are up. Other buyers’ spendings also noted an increase despite the drop in requests.
There was a slight decline in requests last week (perhaps due to the good weather or the relaxation of travel restrictions etc.). rCPM and eCPM have continued their upward trend, something which we usually observe in the last days of a given month.
News publishers – stable situation, no major changes. The results are at the same level as last week.
E-commerce publishers – the request growth has stabilized, as has rCPM, eCPM and revenue.
Other sectors – in the case of Computers & Consumer Electronics Hobbies, as well as Games & Leisure, we can see a slow but steady increase in spendings.
Adwords – in recent days we have seen a recovery on the part of other buyers to mid-March levels. eCPMs for both Adwords and the other Buyers have increased to the levels of early March. This bodes well for the future. Observing the above in the context of the total number of requests returning to the levels noted from before the peak period, we can conclude that performance has begun to stabilize.
We have seen there were fewer requests during the holiday period, but a noted increase in rCPM in recent days has resulted in stable revenues with a discernible upward trend. This raises hopes for a better month-end, and the maintaining of this trend into May.
When it comes to News Publishers, the trend that has been observable in recent weeks has continued. Revenues are stable and continued interest in content (news) has made up the shortfall in terms of the weaker eCPM.
The visible increase in traffic last week has continued into this week. E-commerce Publishers feel that it is worth getting traffic and customers to their sites. Unfortunately, performance is still weak, and rCPM is declining.
Adword revenue share is increasing in tandem with its eCPM. The shares of other buyers are smaller but their cumulative eCPM has returned to levels seen at the beginning of March.
Buyer expenditures, observed through the prism of sectors, have only seen slight variations. We have also noted a significant decline in Jobs and Education over the course of the last few weeks.
We have seen increases in rCPM up to the beginning of April, and the coming week will be decisive. If this trend continues then it can be said that the so-called ‘first-wave’ decline has slowed, and that we will be returning to the usual profile of this indicator – although remaining at low-level crisis mode.
News publishers have been maintaining the trend which made traction at end of March, and there are still more requests; although the peak is behind us.
Hobby websites have noted an increase in requests and a decrease in rCPM – unfortunately, this all about the specifics of our group of publishers and the one dominant publisher in this category (I would look askance at this chart).
E-commerce – stable and no tremors.
Adwords – we can discern a deceleration of the downward trend. Since the beginning of April, we have seen adwords being bought at increasing rates. And that’s a good sign!
In a time of self-isolation, people are naturally spending more time online, searching for the latest information about the virus: subsequent cases and the progress in fighting the epidemic. On the other hand, they are also looking for content which will help them to relax and tune out. Thus an increase in requests might be the natural consequence of people remaining at home, either by their own choice or by government decree.
Looking at the results from the beginning of March, firstly we observed an increase in the number of requests, especially on News pages. Simultaneously with an increase in requests eCPM and rCPM began to decline. Revenues from Programmatic were relatively stable, although they noted a slight drop during this period: in a normal mid-March scenario, we would be expecting increases. The increase of ad requests slowed down last week, but the decrease in rCPM and eCPM continued. As a result, revenues are not growing as we would expect in the second half of the month. This prediction will certainly obtain for some Publishers, because different sites will experience the impact of coronavirus in different ways.
We have identified several Publisher Programmatic behavior profiles, 3 common are:
1. News services (especially local news) – with the largest flow of requests reaching as much as 40%. Despite the fall in rCPM and coverage, their revenues from Programmatic have grown significantly. These Publishers may not see losses for some time.
2. Hobby or specific industry websites have not been affected by the current situation given the fact that the coronavirus so far has failed to impact on request numbers and Programmatic earnings.
3. The biggest losses were recorded for websites related to getting around, planning trips and online purchasing. Partly this may be due to a waning interest in these activities at the present time; whereas Publishers themselves may have ceased promoting their services, and are no longer featuring related content.
Changes in traffic and user behavior have impacted on Advertiser behavior in terms of overall performance. Adwords, being the biggest source of revenue for many Publishers, has maintained spending levels, but has responded to increased traffic by lowering bids. It is dynamically pursuing this strategy, and certainly in a more efficient manner than other buyers in the Open Market.
Looking more closely at Advertiser industries, we are observing a systematic rollback of Travel & Tourism budgets. Jobs & Education and Arts & Entertainment are also falling week on week.
A visible increase in spending by Advertisers was noted in the following industries: Apparel, Food & Groceries, Hobbies, and Games & Leisure.
The situation is very dynamic and fluid, and will change from week to week. As in any critical situation, it is extremely important to play it cool and to not act on impulse; as this may do more harm than good. We at Yieldbird are keeping our fingers on the pulse of events, monitoring and analysing market trends and tendencies; as well as taking note of the data available on the ad-spending behaviour of the largest Advertiser. In the majority of cases, this allows us to maintain a stable advertising performance and prevent issues regarding the potential risks to brand safety in the advertising arena of the Internet.
We’re trying to do everything we can to support you and your businesses! If there’s anything we can do to help you during this trying time, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know.
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Regional Growth Director
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