Blog

May 5, 2016

Puppies, Parties and Patios – but No Politics Please: How May Day Influences Ad Spend

Matt Johnson, Business Analyst EMEA, OpenX

The first May bank holiday is a landmark in the British calendar. With spring well underway summer is almost within reach, and with it the promise of long lazy days in the sunshine.

So what are consumers’ key priorities over this long weekend? And how are brands changing their ad spend to reach audiences while they’re in the holiday mood? To answer this we compared ad spend in website categories and brand industries over the bank holiday weekend with the same days four weeks earlier, to identify major fluctuations in ad spend.

Which website categories and industries saw a significant uplift?
May is clearly the month for animal lovers as the website category ‘pets’ saw an impressive uplift of almost 120% in ad spend compared with four weeks previously. Other website categories to see a major surge in ad spend were ‘food and drink’, as consumers used the long weekend as an excuse for overindulgence, and ‘home and garden’ with DIY and gardening top of the to-do list for those spending the bank holiday at home.

A similar picture emerged when brand industries were analysed. Deals and coupons saw an uplift of over 1,000%, and spend was also increased on retail, events, tickets, and entertainment as consumers sought activities to take partake in over the weekend or planned events for the rest of the summer. The home and décor industry also saw a significant uplift in spend, again underlining the importance of home improvements at this time of year.

Which categories and industries saw a decrease in ad spend?
Website categories that saw a noteworthy decrease in ad spend included personal finance, news, government and politics, and technology and computing. It is likely companies avoid advertising in these types of categories over the bank holiday, recognising that consumers want to relax and enjoy their time off without worrying about serious issues. The same picture emerged from brand industry ad spend with finance, employment, technology, and business services all experiencing a noticeable decline.

While the trend for May Day bank holiday ad spend seems to focus on advertising for fun or frivolous categories, there were some industries that bucked these overall trends. Education – without doubt a serious subject – saw a striking increase in ad spend in both website categories and brand industries. With end of year exams approaching and universities making their final decisions, students may well have used the long weekend to weigh up options for their next step on the educational ladder. Perhaps more surprisingly, ad spend decreased in the travel website category, possibly because the promise of good weather means consumers are happy to stay in the UK.

The factors influencing customer receptivity to advertising are endless, but it would appear the first May bank holiday weekend is the time to reach those interested in pets, DIY, entertaining, and education. Just keep the news light and the politics out of sight.