44% of publishers expect traffic levels for the 2020 peak shopping period to exceed pre-pandemic levels, according to Rakuten Advertising’s Road to Recovery, a survey of 150,000 publishers conducted in August. 72% reported that advertisers are committing to paid relationships over the holiday period, but 70% of these found that advertisers are only committing to short-term plans of three months or less.
A shift to short-term planning
The state of the industry poll found 37% of publishers are confident that commissions will hold up over the holiday period, but 62% voiced concerns that short-term planning is becoming more entrenched.
43% of publishers also reported a dip in campaign spending and 37% have found that they are required to be more responsive to fit the needs of clients.
Another trend picked out is a shift in how advertisers spend on campaigns, with 46% of publishers observing an increase in flat fee paid placements and 37% witnessing an increase in requests to pay via commission.
The vast majority of publishers (77%) also report improved performance from advertisers focused on affiliate channels.
Pointing to changing sentiment Anthony Capano, managing director, international, at Rakuten Advertising said: “There has been a real rebound in consumer spending in recent months due to pent up demand, and advertisers can see the opportunity over the peak shopping period.“
Capano added: “However, they are more uncertain about the road to recovery and are planning 2021 campaigns conservatively. Next year publishers will be working in a way which lends itself to pivoting quickly based on changing consumer behaviours and advertisers will need to be prepared to adapt.”
Publishers are shaking up their strategies
Publishers are being swept along by these changes as they rethink established strategies. 44% were offering partnership incentives to advertisers and investing more in building relationships with affiliate networks.
62% of Rakuten’s global publisher network are pursuing new features to their websites and apps to maximise traffic over the holiday shopping period, with 34% engaging directly with their audiences through specific calls to action.
Social media is being harnessed by 47% of respondents to drive traffic with 43% also turning to email marketing and 27% embracing paid search.
Pressed as to which online channels have delivered the greatest increase in referral traffic since the onset of Covid-19, 48% cited organic, followed by social (34%) and mobile (29%).