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How Coronavirus is Affecting Publishers & Performance Solutions They Can Implement

As coronavirus news seems to pick up rapidly on a daily basis, every single day this week has shown different news. As rate of spread increases in the United States, the entire media industry is facing major disruption from canceled events to higher acquisitions costs mixed with shifting ad spend. 

As COVID-19 shakes up the entire media industry, we’re sharing how its affecting media brands and publishers as well as short-term performance solutions that can help fill revenue gaps.

1. Events were a major focus for publishers to diversify their revenue; now, they’re cancelled.  


As if revenue diversification wasn’t already a big issue, Max Willens Digiday reports, “More than 90% of the budgets allocated to event spending are spent on events.

Publishers entered 2020 viewing events as a promising way to diversify their revenues. The continuing spread of coronavirus has put that promise on hold, with consumers staying home, marketers holding back requests for proposals and insurance companies refusing to issue event cancellation policies that would cover coronavirus, as actuaries struggle to figure out the scope and consequences of the disease.”

Even at Revcontent, one of our biggest focuses for 2020 was events and conferences – being in Sarasota, Florida, we’re sometimes at a disadvantage when it comes to travel, so we made it a big priority to sponsor and show up at key industry events. 

We’ve had major cancellations and consequential budget reallocations just within the past weeks as everyone’s plans majorly shift with no idea when they will get back on track. 

2. Uncertain markets along with rising CPA costs for advertisers means a slow down in ad spend.

As reported by Digiday’s Kristina Monllos on March 6th, “So far, the company is seeing a drop in conversions so it is pulling back on Facebook ads but waiting to see if they need to do more before making solid plans to change other channels, suspend marketing or reallocate the budget to later in the year.”

Especially on social media, advertisers across the board are seeing their top of funnel funnel metrics staying consistent while bottom of funnel purchase drops off.

“The uncertainty in the short-term makes people more likely to conserve cash.”

In February, “coronavirus” became the second-most common word on block lists for news publishers, up from eighth-most common in January, according to Integral Ad Science data. 

3. Low programmatic revenue and low fill rates cause dip in CPMs for some publishers. 

Trey Brenner, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Revcontent said, “With the market volatility, brands are considering cutting their advertising spend, which will directly impact agencies as well as the branded Publishers relying on those dollars.”

As programmatic advertisers spend less, publishers feel the pain of low programmatic revenue and low fill rates.   

For Revcontent publishers, our Tier 1 publisher CPMs have maintained consistency, despite market volatility and decreasing ad spend. 

Derek Abildness, Senior Business Development Executive said, “Media brands are experiencing challenges with programmatic revenue decreases due to ad agency’s decreasing budgets in the midst of the coronavirus’s economic impact.”

Performance Solutions for Publishers

Trey Brenner, our VP of Strategic Partnerships at Revcontent offered advice on short-term solutions for publishers – during an uncertain revenue time, it’s the opportunity to test, optimize, and figure out new solutions to plug in without risking much.

1. Plugging in performance marketing solutions

In performance marketing, everything sustainable is ROI positive. For affiliates, if something isn’t performing, it’s turned off. If it is performing, then they only want to increase budgets. 

For Revcontent, as a performance marketing solution, we are not heavily reliant on brands with volatile budgets.  

In terms of other monetization solutions, e-commerce widgets, such as Stackcommerce offer another opportunity for affiliate-style e-commerce revenue. Again, little reliance on outside budgets is key. 

Brenner says, “For publishers, especially in the tech space, plugging in with Amazon Affiliates is a simple way to monetize new and existing content. Many publishers don’t use Amazon Affiliate links simply because it can be time-consuming or they don’t think about it.”

2. Increased funnels for paying subscribers

As we’ve known for a while, paying subscribers are a breath of fresh air to publisher revenue. Increased paying subscribers helps alleviate ups and downs of programmatic volatility. 

During this time to add in more stability, publishers can back fill their own content to lead users into their paid subscription funnel – whether that’s for an editorial subscription, app download, push notification subscription, or email newsletter sign up. 

Readers who are bought in and engaged are more likely to come back for returning visits, engage with email content, spend more time on site etc. – all metrics that add in more stability 

Instead of having a 300×250 ad that is maybe getting a publisher $.05 CPC, media brands can prioritize internal content and funnels.

As the world seems to change daily, we’re here for all our partners during this time, and please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can help you. 

Through content discovery, Revcontent enables publishers and advertisers to engage and grow audiences, develop loyal customers and drive revenue. Sign up or login to your account. 

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