Every quarter, TapClicks produces a benchmark report that analyzes the ad data flowing through its platform to spot digital marketing trends across channels. These range from SEM/PPC to social advertising, programmatic, and more. Its new Q3 report tracks the marketer’s journey through this unprecedented year. TapClicks’ data carries us from a hopeful beginning to Q1 to a dive in Q2 as COVID’s impact sank in. And now to a gradual comeback during Q3. Ad rates (CPM, CPC) have dropped throughout the year, while clickthrough rates have risen, reflected a bored public glued to its devices.
“COVID has completely shifted every aspect of life, and with that, the marketing and advertising industry has changed considerably. Marketers are being more innovative with their marketing technology and messaging approach along the consumer journey while exploring new marketing channels,” Daryl McNutt, SVP Marketing, TapClicks, told Localogy Insider. “Companies will need to offer new opportunities to promote e-commerce, engage with new audiences, and book services online. The numbers show recovery across all channels, as the world economies begin to open up as the vaccine rolls out.”
We encourage you to peruse the entire report. Here are a few highlights that jumped out to us.
Home and Health Stand Out for Search
It’s no surprise that Amazon, YouTube, and Wikipedia ranked as the top three SEO sites. After all, each produces massive amounts of content, if for different purposes. Others on the top 25 SEO reflected the unique reality of 2020. Home-improvement-related sites like HomeDepot, Overstock, Wayfair, Etsy, reflected the stuck-at-home reality of 2020. In other words, if I have to stare at these four walls, I may as well decorate them.
Another very COVID trend was in health. Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and Healthline ranked among the top 25 as well, reflecting our collective 2020 hypochondria.
An Up and Down 2020
TapClicks documented what a roller coaster ride 2020 has been. Q1 spend was robust for SEM/PPC, social media, programmatic, and display services, only to take a dive in Q2, as COVID kicked in. However, things gradually recovered and spending priorities shifted.
“Many companies moved entirely online, leading to an increase in marketing spend to educate consumers on new purchasing processes,” the report says. “Despite budget cuts in the second and third quarters of 2020, SEM/PPC remained the top channel spend category as marketers sought to generate new business, educate current customers, and increase revenues.”
Gyms and Colleges Invested in Uncertainty
Gyms and colleges were two of the categories most impacted by the pandemic. And they were the top spenders on digital ads, based on average spend per advertiser. Why is that? One explanation is that both groups were forced to train their constituents on how to consume their products differently during the pandemic.
“Both colleges/universities and gyms/fitness centers shifted their models to offer virtual classrooms and remote personal training options, leading to a need from marketers to inform their customers on these major changes,” the report said.
Amazon Leans into the Opportunity
While not the top spender, Amazon led the way in PPC ads through Q3. Its ad spending had more to do with its dominance than perhaps credited. It seems Amazon chose to lean into its once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate its leadership position.
“Amazon greatly surpassed total PPC ad count in the third quarter of 2020, outweighing advertisers by several million,” the report said. “Amazon was one of the few companies that greatly expanded its reach during 2020 as users relied on its home delivery service for groceries, medicine, toiletries, and more.”
What’s on the Horizon?
TapClicks is cautiously hopeful for Q4 and into 2021. We agree there are signs that the light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, a light. And not a train.
“Looking ahead into the fourth quarter of 2020 and early quarters in 2021, we expect to see an increase in marketing spend,” the report says. “Especially with the end of the election and the promising potential of a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming months.”