If you’ve experienced an increase in organic traffic over the past few weeks as the country reels over the shutdowns and related impact on their lives, you’re not alone. As more people are isolated from others and their traditional routines, it seems, they are increasingly turning to the internet as a source of both information and connection. Publishers are closely watching this and other digital media trends.
Content demand skyrockets…
According to Nieman Lab, “March 12 was the day that several publishers saw a spike in online pageviews. That was the day after Donald Trump’s Oval Office address, the NBA suspending its season, and Tom Hanks coming down with the virus—all in about an hour’s time. It was also the day the NCAA canceled March Madness and the Dow had its biggest point loss ever.”
…While ad spend tanks
But another new trend in the media and publishing industry has emerged since the onset of COVID-19. While online content consumption is at an all-time high, publishers that depend on ad revenue are seeing lower ROI because advertisers are pulling back on spend. This is occurring for a number of reasons:
- Some companies, considered non-essential are simply not able to operate and, concerned about their long-term viability, are trying to minimize costs wherever possible.
- Some companies, worried (and rightfully so) about appearing to be too self-serving during a crisis of this magnitude, are stepping back from blatant sales messaging and advertising.
- Some companies—grocery stores, for instance—barely have the time and energy to meet the increased demand they’re facing during the crisis.
Businesses are dealing with a new normal. One that is not likely to shift anytime soon, and one that publishers must learn to navigate as current trends in media and entertainment sectors shift. These shifts require publishers to shift their strategies as well. Here are five ways you can navigate this new terrain while simultaneously meeting audience content demands and protecting the bottom line.
1. Find your niche.
In mid-March, some of the top-trending queries in the US included “coronavirus USA,” “symptoms of coronavirus,” “coronavirus news,” and other coronavirus related search terms and phrases, according to Sortable. While it’s important to tread carefully when it comes to newsjacking during the coronavirus pandemic, publishers certainly can and should consider ways that they can provide valued, and valuable, coronavirus-related information to their audiences.
2. Increase organic traffic by shifting or renewing your focus.
While ad buys and ad engagement may be seeing lower levels now than in the not-so-distant past, organic traffic is on the rise – especially on mobile, where the majority of people (55%) are getting their news from right now.
Wibbitz has seen an increase in organic traffic over the past few weeks, for example, by 20% – now representing 56% of our overall site traffic. Take this as an opportunity to build your organic audience by investing time in SEO and optimizing evergreen content with video.
3. Engage more through social media.
Your audience is likely craving interaction now more than ever before. And what better way to reach them than through the social channels their frequent—perhaps now more than ever? Consider how you could engage with your audience in compelling, meaningful and relevant ways that build brand loyalty. Take this time to improve on your social strategy, experimenting with different formats and lengths to test what drives the most traffic back to your website.
4. Consider expanding your advertising partner network.
We also expect to see a change in digital video advertising trends. With the increase in video consumption, advertisers will be looking to reach audiences where they are spending their time. Take a look at content that has performed well in the past and think about how you can optimize revenue opportunities with new ad formats.
As publishers continue to consider how to engage audiences in ways that can be revenue-generating, considering the ideas above can be a good way to test and try new approaches. In an environment where many people have more time on their hands, finding ways to put valued content in front of them is a great way to maintain relevance and brand strength.