With COVID-19 making its presence known across the globe, virtually every country is now well entrenched in the new “stay-at-home” lifestyle. Government-mandated social distancing measures have restricted all public gatherings, leaving people isolated in their home for weeks – or months – at a time. And while some areas of the world are starting to talk about implementing reopening plans, many people will continue to be at home, either because they are in a high-risk group, they don’t agree with the timing of reopening and want to mitigate risk, or they unfortunately no longer have a job to which they can return.
Unsurprisingly, changes this extreme have led to huge swings in consumer behavior – some of which caused vertical changes that were predicted, while others came as quite a surprise (we’re looking at you, Shopping and Dating). Some of the hardest-hit industries, like Travel and Hospitality, will have to lay low and whether the storm. But for two verticals in particular, there’s a consumer-interest influx happening that marketers and partners can’t afford to ignore.
If you’ve seen our latest white paper on performance marketing vertical trends during COVID-19, you know that the Personal Finance and Software verticals have experienced a boom in ad spend. (And if you haven’t seen our Pivoting in a Pandemic white paper, you can download it here!). In today’s piece, we dig into the details on why these verticals are seeing impressive growth, how marketers can help provide important services in a time of need, and how partners can reposition themselves for success in the new normal.
The Personal Finance vertical has remained one of the strongest categories from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and appears to be staying on an upward trajectory. As consumers come to terms with the new economic reality, there has been a renewed focus on their finances. While some sub-genres of the financial sector, such as services that monitor or help improve consumer credit score, have dipped or remained largely flat, others have seen an increase in demand with the onset of the pandemic – and will likely see other waves of demand as the economy continues to remain in flux.
Now is the time for marketers with refinance, personal loan, online job, bankruptcy, or any other offers that cater to hard financial times to come to the public’s aid with the services they need – and to do so with compassion. Additionally, in a surprising development, we’re seeing an opportunity for marketers in the investment app and platform category with the same opportunity. While historical knowledge has told us to expect a decrease in investment interest, it largely appears that today’s consumer is still interested in investing, despite the market downturn.
Marketers who are able to maneuver their budget caps and use a more elastic model are those that will not only reap the most benefit from this increased demand, but provide the most help to consumers in need. Partners with audiences in the financial vertical should focus on shifting their attention to these high-demand financial subcategories. In addition to the consumers already active in the financial space, the turbulent economic times and stay-at-home lifestyle are bringing new consumers online and to the app stores looking for help every day.
The software vertical contains a vast number of different product offerings, ranging from programs that protect a user’s privacy during their online sessions, to plugins that scan the web for coupons and discounts, but the majority boil down to one goal – improving a consumer’s digital experience. With online media consumption up as much as 40%1, consumers are looking for a better digital experience now more than ever. There’s no time like the present to increase awareness about the benefits of your software, and performance marketing is proving to be one of the most cost-effective marketing methods for doing so.
As the pandemic wears on, the two subcategories of Internet Security and Coupon software have emerged with some of the strongest ad spends in this vertical.
As people move from office network connections to their home devices, anti-virus software has become a necessity for many consumers looking to protect confidential information. Furthermore, cyber threats, such as phishing scams, have spiked2 as scammers look to prey on remote workers and taxed-out IT systems. For this subcategory, we’ve already seen marketers on the move, with major antivirus platforms like McAfee and Norton continuing to allocate budget to their affiliate marketing programs as demand rolls in. While offers like these may have once benefited from dayparting, as consumption times shift due to increased digital media consumptions, it may benefit software marketers to test additional selling times to reach more consumers in this “new normal”. Affiliates running in the software vertical can expect continued strong growth in the antivirus (yes, we are aware of the irony) arena. In times of crisis, research has shown that brands who continue marketing through a recession also do better in a recovery3. Finding your audience niche and performing well with these software brands now will continue to reap benefits in the future.
As for coupon and deal software, we see value-conscious consumers looking to save in uncertain times via apps and browser plugins that can give peace of mind that they’re finding the biggest discount available while shopping online. As consumers change their lifestyle habits in response to COVID-19, this is a software service we believe will be adopted by many consumers as a new norm even after things begin to stabilize. Volatile economy or not – who doesn’t want to save money?
Those Who Are Agile Will Find Opportunity
The shift to a stay-at-home economy will continue to affect the world even after we begin to come back from the COVID-19 pandemic. The marketers that provide essential goods and services in this time of need, and the partners who help distribute these offers to the world, will help build consumer trust for the long-term.
Though this piece only focuses on two top-performing verticals, there are still many others that are showing high-levels of success. It will be the marketers and partners who use this time to innovate and expand in these verticals that will emerge stronger from these troubled months. Read more about these additional vertical opportunities in our Pivoting in a Pandemic white paper here.
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