Digital Publishing
3 mins read

Traffic is stable, long-form content doing well, and other publisher insights

Since I started putting together these posts every week, the topics have always centered on how things have changed. Our world has been turned upside down, and to this day, that’s what the data has shown.

This week, I decided it was high time to look closer at a revenue stream we haven’t focused on yet — audience development — to examine how campaigns optimizing for a high volume of quality traffic have shifted since this whole thing started.

And I have to tell you, I was very surprised at what I found. So let’s dig in.

Steady waters in the storm

So here’s the headline: Things may be different, but not that different. Here’s what we know about the past few months:

  • CPCs are lower
  • CPAs are lower
  • Overall traffic is higher
  • COVID campaigns drive traffic that converts

But let’s put COVID content aside for now. Yes, really.

I took a look at all of the audience development campaigns currently running on Keywee. And do you know what I didn’t see? COVID-centric campaigns. Not a single one.

In recent weeks, publishers have successfully been using COVID-related campaigns to drive business results ranging from newsletter sign-ups to sales of yoga pants. But traffic campaigns? With the exception of a think piece here and there, most audience development campaigns have pretty much been COVID-free.

But what about behavior?

Putting aside the shifts in desktop and mobile traffic that I covered last week, the truth is that users aren’t behaving that differently at all.

At Keywee, we have a proprietary metric that we use with our audience development campaigns called Loyalty Score. In a nutshell, Loyalty Score gives publishers an understanding of the overall quality of users that they’re acquiring with their paid campaigns. Put another way: you bought traffic, now how much of that traffic is returning to your site?

I decided to look at Loyalty Scores across our publishers, to see if user behavior had changed in any significant way. I think the graph below speaks for itself:

This is probably the most stable chart that I’ve shared on this blog. People are returning to sites at pretty much the same levels that they were before the crisis.

If anything, this news should be incredibly encouraging to publishers looking to drive paid traffic. Why? What it tells me is that there’s no need to treat the audience today differently than the audience from 3 months ago. Though the environment has changed, people are still behaving in more or less the same way when it comes to their reading habits. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So, what are people reading?

Whenever I can, I try to give you a little insight into what’s trending right now in terms of content and creatives.

Let’s be clear: Though there aren’t any COVID-related campaigns, the content here isn’t detached from the reality of the current situation. In some cases, the current situation is addressed. The thing is, though, that most of the articles don’t deal with it directly.

For example, escapism reigns supreme, with the true crime genre taking the top spot. Of course, celebrity gossip is, as always, up there when it comes to click-through rates. One interesting trend that stands out is the increasing popularity of in-depth think pieces. Long-form content is doing well, most likely a result of the extra free time that audiences have on their hands.

Another emerging trend is the newfound popularity of category “top” lists and how-to guides, from how to cook with pantry staples to the ‘Top 10 Best Podcasts’ to listen to. Uplifting stories are also seeing a nice surge.

From a creative and copywriting standpoint, lighthearted seems to be working. We’re seeing that emojis are driving engagement – something that hasn’t been happening in other campaign types. Images of big smiling faces are having a bit of a moment as well.

So if there’s one thing I want you to take away from all of this, it’s that the world may be upside-down, but people are still people. Some things never change.

Inbar Yagur, Keywee

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