The proof that it will pay to keep ads working this summer

Pausing ad campaigns during the summer months misses a crucial opportunity to make your budget work harder

July 7, 2020

The proof that it will pay to keep ads working this summer

Europe is cautiously opening its borders and people are pulling together plans for a change of scene after months spent in lockdown. It’s hard to predict how many will travel abroad and how many will choose to stay closer to home. It’s uncertain what the experience of beaches, bars and restaurants will be in a socially distanced world. However, analysis of LinkedIn data shows there’s one thing we can be fairly confident of this summer: businesses that keep their ad campaigns running will find a lot of value out there. Those that pause them will be missing out at a crucial time.

At first glance, this seems counter-intuitive. The common assumption is that audiences switch off once schools break up and people start booking time off work – and that advertising to them is therefore a waste of budget. When you look at the LinkedIn data though, it’s not a decline in click-through rates that defines the summer period – it’s a dramatic drop in how much those clicks cost. Rather than becoming less effective, advertising campaigns targeting B2B audiences during the summer become a lot more efficient.

We analysed the average metrics for campaigns running on LinkedIn during July and August 2019 – and compared these to the metrics for campaigns on the platform in May and June. We found that the click-through rate for ads dropped very slightly, by 1.7%, over the summer. However, we also found that advertisers were paying far less for the clicks that they generated, with average cost per click (CPC) down by 12.9%. The cost of impressions (CPM) came down by the same amount. Relevant audiences are still out there engaging with ads – there’s just a lot less competition for their attention, and that enables marketers to do a lot more with their budgets.

There’s more to value than just cost, of course. Smart marketers will want to know that the clicks they pay less for during the summer are worth as much as clicks from a few weeks earlier. In fact, the data suggests they are worth even more. During the summer, cost per lead (CPL) drops by 21% - an even bigger reduction than for CPC. The obvious conclusion is that clicks are going on to convert to leads at an increased rate. And this makes intuitive sense. With fewer meetings in their calendars, people who are working have more time to notice, engage and respond to relevant ads.

The opportunity that this represents is a crucial one for marketers in any summer – but especially so during the summer of 2020. When budgets are tight, it becomes all the more important to grab the opportunity to generate relevant reach and demand cost-effectively.

Building Share of Voice through lower CPMs

During economic downturns such as that likely to be caused by COVID-19, the case for brand advertising grows stronger. It’s been proved that, when brands grow their SOV relative to their Share of Market (SOM), their market share subsequently grows in response. By continuing to advertise during a downturn, when others cut their budgets, brands are investing in the recovery – but in a cost-efficient way. Their relative SOV is far greater due to others’ lack of activity – and so their share of the future market grows as well.

Businesses that are forced to cut ad spend during difficult times face the flipside of the equation, with the likelihood that their market share will shrink, squeezing revenues during the recovery and increasing the challenges of rebuilding.

In this context, the lower CPMs on offer during the summer months are a precious opportunity to make valuable budget go further, increasing the number of impressions that it can buy and helping to maintain all-important SOV. The summer months could turn out to be well-timed for marketers looking to protect or grow their market share amid the effects of the pandemic.

Generating relevant demand through lower CPC and CPL

The clicks and leads that marketers can expect to pay less for during the summer also have a more urgent value in 2020. Businesses are seeking ways to adapt to a new world of work – and that means they can’t afford to pause their decision-making, just because it’s July or August. With buying committees already accustomed to working remotely, it’s easier to keep a process moving forward even when decision-makers take time off. If you’re a marketer operating in a sector with strong or recovering demand then there’s little reason to believe that clicks will be any less intent-driven during the summer. And if clicks and leads are available at a lower cost then there’s all the more reason for making sure you secure your share of them.

The data shows that continuing to advertise during any summer can provide a significant boost to campaign efficiency – and therefore to your eventual Return on Investment (ROI). Advertising during the summer of 2020, when business decision-makers are particularly intent-driven and attentive, could have an even more critical impact.