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