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October ushered in crisp days, falling leaves, and pumpkin spice everything. It also kicked off the holiday shopping season (hello, Giftober) this year, giving brands their first crack at crushing Q4 goals. When consumers weren’t pulling out their credit cards, they tuned in to a plethora of can’t-miss streaming entertainment.
As every brand knows, the devil is in the details, so we peaked behind the publisher curtain and sifted through Skimlink‘s publisher affiliate data to see what’s catching consumer attention the most. As consumer mindsets are constantly changing, made even more unpredictable with this year’s unstable economic outlook, understanding emerging consumer trends and staying ahead of the competition is vital.
What’s clear from October’s data is this: instead of purchasing big ticket items as they did in September, consumers were more focused on:
October was jam-packed with must-see TV, and consumers were all about tuning in. The average US household subscribes to 4.7 services, but no one platform offers it all. So, while people know what they want to watch, ‘how to watch’ remains the question and has become a top internet search phrase according to our Skimlink’s data, with many of the most popular articles including phrases like ‘watch for free’ or ‘stream for free.’
In one form or another, competition-based content led the pack, with millions wanting to watch the Miss USA Pageant, the MLB World Series, the BET Hip Hop Awards, and MTV’s The Challenge. Lifetime also doubled down with a true-crime thriller and documentary about the tragic ending to Gabby Peitito’s life, both of which proved irresistible to audiences.
The Takeaway: As a publisher, you need to know about the upcoming content that will interest your audience. Prepare articles that will direct your readers to the streaming services featuring that programming and specifically call out the show titles in your URLs to gain more traffic. Additionally, promote free trials and seasonal deals because viewers are finicky and willing to switch services if there is enough incentive, such as attractive pricing or great content options.
Advertisers should remain hyper-focused on targeting to ensure campaigns reach the right audience. Since we know subscribers will come and go, having a two-pronged strategy is the way to go. Create specific campaigns for highly anticipated releases and more generalized campaigns that highlight the wealth of content available.
Get inspired by these examples:
The power of TikTok is undeniable. More than a quarter of 18 to 29-year-olds get their news from the platform, and many Gen Z-ers start their searches on the platform instead of Google. There’s a corner of TikTok for every interest (#BookTok, #SportTok, #NatureTok), but one stands out as a true taste-maker with over 20 billion views: #BeautyTok.
If a beauty product goes viral on TikTok, you can be sure consumers will search the web to snag one before it sells out. While the platform is responsible for the resurrection of the under-the-radar and 15-year-old skincare brand CeraVe and Clinique’s all-but-forgotten Black Honey lipstick, new products get much the same treatment. October’s release of beauty advent calendars and limited-edition holiday products from brands like Charlotte Tillbury set the platform on fire, and influencer-produced ‘how to use’ product videos consistently gain millions of views.
The Takeaway: Publishers in the beauty and fashion industries should be acutely aware of what’s trending on TikTok and prepare content that features the most searched for products with links to buy those items. Know of a deal or a site having a sale? Even better! Be sure to include user reviews alongside before and after pictures, as both heavily influence purchase decisions, particularly for beauty products.
Advertisers with trending products should go all in with campaigns featuring them. As the holidays are right around the corner and many of those products will land at the top of wish lists, build holiday messaging into the campaigns.
Take a cue from these:
Fashion is always a hot topic online, but as the seasons change, it’s a vertical that enjoys extra attention. In October, people can’t wait to pull on a cozy sweater or slip into their new cold-weather coat. Additionally, with the Christmas season starting in October, our data revealed that consumers started purchasing their holiday outfits early.
Inflation concerns are still top-of-mind for consumers, but that hasn’t slowed them down when purchasing the right outfit for an office holiday party, family dinner, or big night out. What it has done is make them laser-focused on deals and sales.
The Takeaway: Consumers know this is the time of year to score deep discounts. Publishers should create all types of buying guides that highlight store-specific and item-specific deals (most wanted women’s boots, men’s coats, children’s pajamas, etc.). Focus on brands that align with consumer priorities such as value, availability, and convenience (think: buy now, pay later, and curbside pickup).
Advertisers can earn more revenue early in Q4 by encouraging consumers to make fast purchase decisions. Placing ads on the right publications and incorporating the right language in campaigns is critical. Beyond mentioning sales and discounts, include messaging that refers to limited-time deals and ‘while supplies last.’
Use these examples as a guide:
As we soar into the Christmas season, publishers and advertisers should use October’s affiliate trends and our extensive holiday insights to dive into the consumer mindset and uncover what they intend to put under the tree. These learnings will prove invaluable when deciding which products and services to promote.
Over the next few months, flexibility will be the name of the game for both advertisers and publishers. Staying on top of consumer trends daily and responding immediately by publishing new content is essential for publishers.
Advertisers must remember that even for in-store purchases, the consumer experience starts online, so using data to create high-performing campaigns for brand awareness and conversion goals is the way to wrap up Q4 with a big red revenue bow.