A lot of peo­ple in soci­ety both in rela­tion­ships and sin­gle are very cyn­i­cal of Valentine’s Day as a com­mer­cially man­u­fac­tured day designed to drive sales of flow­ers, choco­lates, cards, jew­elry, etc. While that is an argu­ment for another day, we wanted to see if con­sumers’ behav­ior online changes as a result of Valentine’s Day and thus give adver­tiser insights into mar­ket­ing through this period.

To this end, we looked at Valentine’s Day and the sur­round­ing period in 2010 to see whether Dis­play Pub­lish­ers saw any traf­fic vari­a­tions and whether adver­tiser cre­ative on these sites tends to be more effec­tive at cap­tur­ing people’s attention.

Figure’s 1 and 2 below show 3 Pub­lisher sites; one pop­u­lar social net­work­ing site and two well known dat­ing sites and their daily vol­ume and Ad CTRs (click through rates) over 4 peri­ods;
a) Feb 8th – 12th Feb (week before Valentine’s Day)
b) Feb 13th (day before Valentine’s Day)
c) Feb 14th (Valentine’s Day)
d) Feb 15th – Feb 19th (week after Valentine’s Day)

Fig­ure 1: Pub­lisher Traf­fic Vol­ume from EF US Adver­tis­ers  Blog10fig1

Fig­ure 2: US Adver­tiser CTRs (click through rates) on Pub­lisher Sites

Last year Valentine’s Day fell on a Sun­day, mean­ing the 8th–12th period and 15th–19th period was a Mon­day to Fri­day and of course the day before was a Saturday.

It is evi­dent from there is a def­i­nite spike in traf­fic on the 13th which holds into Valentine’s Day. This then drops sharply the fol­low­ing week at a level of around 20% for the Social and Dat­ing A side and over 12% for Dat­ing B from the Valentine’s week­end level. For Social and Dat­ing A, the traf­fic vol­ume was a sim­i­lar level below the pre­vi­ous week’s (Feb 8–12) traf­fic level.

Now while it is prob­a­bly not sur­pris­ing that these types of sites gar­ner ele­vated traf­fic lev­els in the lead up to and on Valentine’s Day itself, it is also inter­est­ing that all sites also recorded higher CTRs for ads appear­ing on their site. Bear in mind the ads on the site were not nec­es­sar­ily any­thing to do with Valentine’s Day, dat­ing or indeed any­thing social and could have been adver­tis­ing a Finan­cial product.

Often in both Dis­play and Search, ele­vated traf­fic lev­els lead to lower CTRs but from this sam­ple set in 2010, we show that Dis­play advertiser’s regard­less of their ver­ti­cal can ben­e­fit from ad place­ments on Social and Dat­ing sites dur­ing this time.

The data may also indi­cate that our loud cyn­i­cal state­ments about Valentine’s Day may not match our actions. Love is cer­tainly in the air online!

Chris Jacob