Trend Spotting: What advertisers in India can learn from European counterparts

Guest Column: Sandeep Balani writes that based on Outbrain interest data and other industry indicators, there are a few trends advertisers in India should consider

e4m by Sandeep Balani
Published: Jun 17, 2020 2:15 PM  | 4 min read
Sandeep Balani

Across the globe, countries entered the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown at different times. While there is no clarity on what to expect next, there are some trends that advertisers and agencies in India should be paying close attention to, as Europe begins to get back to business.

The first EU country to go in full lockdown, Italy, is now starting to open up. In the last 30 days, travel and automotive are the two highest growing areas in terms of page views, whereas health has seen the greatest dip.

By comparison, India’s five top categories for page views are: investments, movies, education, software and gaming - a lot like Outbrain’s network in Europe one month ago.

Looking at Outbrain interest data and other industry indicators, there are a few trends advertisers in India should consider.

The pandemic has given rise to a “homebody economy”, as households make more use of online orders to avoid crowds. Across Europe’s largest e-commerce markets - France, Germany, and the UK - purchase behavior has evolved. According to a May study by Kantar, 9% of shoppers make more online purchases than before; 60% say they will continue to shop online after the outbreak; and 80% say they will shop online again for non-essential items. Despite the gradual re-opening of physical stores, categories such as sports and fashion, health and beauty, home and interior, and consumer electronics are seeing a higher share of retail sales through online channels than ever before.

The pandemic has accelerated existing trends within the gaming industry, such as the way gamers purchase and consume, moving from packaged games to downloadable content.

Another indicator of this shift, mobile apps in general have skyrocketed during the crisis and are expected to account for 48% of the global games market this year, according to Newzoo’s April study. Furthermore, while apps have seen a surge in new users over recent months, gaming marketers have the opportunity to make these new audiences engage with their apps after Covid. On the Outbrain network, the lifetime value for gaming apps has increased by up to 30%, thanks to our technology’s ability to identify qualified audiences.

As consumers regain the ability to travel in a post-lockdown world, they’ll also be more concerned with how to commute safely. Despite being caught in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, the automotive industry has been a surprising early riser post-confinement. Over the past month, paid listings for SUVs, motorcycles, and hybrid or electric vehicles have made a significant resurgence on the Outbrain network, with page views for auto content being among the highest growing areas. Marketers have quickly realised that more consumers are exploring car ownership now that they want to reduce their use of public transport.

In the early stages of Covid-19, finance, and especially insurance services, saw a huge spike in page views as consumers wanted to ensure the safety and health of their families. Investment content had the lion’s share of page views, while insurance and credit content had the largest percentage of growth on the Outbrain network. Following the global financial uncertainty, consumer behaviour has shifted from a “now” mindset to one that prioritises the future - thinking more about how to invest and protect savings. As this crisis continues to evolve, finance will likely continue to be a high priority, but it is up to brands to identify the current mood and concerns of their customers, and how best to address them.

Dating & relationships
Social distancing and confinement did nothing to dampen singletons’ desire to find their soulmate, having quickly adapted to search digitally for human connection. Dating app Tinder has reported increased app activity since February, with daily conversations being up by an average of 20% around the world, and the average length of conversations lasting 25% longer. Tinder also saw their record day for swipes on March 29th, with over 3 billion.

Beyond dating, other services such as online relationship counselling have thrived in this period. Unsurprisingly, the pressures of a lockdown, financial and job security, and homeschooling have put huge demands on even the strongest of relationships. India is no exception to this trend; in fact, relationship and parenting content had one of the highest CTR’s on our network last month.

We might not know what’s to come, but we can certainly learn from each other. From London to Sydney, there are similar trends we can expect to see emerge here in India too.

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