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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

The back-to-office push is driving ad sales opportunities

October 3, 2022 | By Todd Krizelman, CEO – MediaRadar @ToddKrizelman

Many companies are now requiring their employees to be in the office at least a few times each week. While this mandate has been met with much pushback on the part of employees, it also brings opportunities for ad sales teams. 

As Americans settle into their “new normal” work life, whether that be hybrid or full-time in the office, there are many areas in which an agile ad sales team can capitalize. Recently, at MediaRadar, we reviewed the advertising landscape to see which advertisers are actively increasing their ad investments in preparation for the latest “return to office mandates.”

Here are some of the segments that are shifting as we head to the office. Here’s our advice regarding which categories should be on your “radar.”

Back-to-office means these categories are back to advertising

Here are some segments that are actively advertising right now and would make great prospects for your business. These products are currently in high demand. However, these brands are also often in highly competitive segments, so they need to advertise. 

  • Beauty and grooming products saw a 15% jump YoY from January – August. This category reached over $3.6B through August of 2022. As Americans are venturing out of their homes and going places, like back to the office, they are investing in cosmetics (up 130% YoY), men’s skincare (up 91% YoY), and fragrances (up 86% YoY). 
  • Apparel advertising is up 49% YoY to $3.7B through August of this year. In August we saw the largest jump in this category, it was up 49% YoY. Major fashion houses and designer brands are investing in ads to entice Americans to invest in a new wardrobe as they spend their workdays outside the home.
  • As Americans are commuting again, audiobook publishers, like Audible and Penguin Random House have increased their advertising. This category is up 530% YoY from January – August 2022. Interestingly, podcasting, a pre-pandemic favorite of commuters, hasn’t seen a dramatic jump yet. Advertising for podcasts has reached $62.5mm through August 2022 and is only up 5% YoY. 
  • Mommy/Daddy guilt is real and children’s advertisers are ready to capitalize. We see advertising for baby and children’s products up 70% YoY to over $695mm through August 2022. Eighty-five percent of the advertisers in this category increased their ad spend YoY. Top drivers include toys/games ($272mm, up 39% YoY), diapers ($139mm, up 20% YoY), and dolls ($77mm, up 11%YoY)

Getting out of the house could be a turning point for these segments

These segments and advertisers have struggled this year, but with the return to the office, we could be seeing an increase in advertising investment. These are advertisers your team should reach out to now, as they may be turning the corner.

  • While the auto market is fairly flat to date, electric vehicles’ advertising was up ~175% to nearly $218mm invested through August of 2022. EV’s biggest jump was in July with over 430% YoY increase from July of 2021.
  • While restaurants are down 13% YoY, still an impressive $2.6b has been invested through August. June and July were down 26% and 27% YoY respectively. However, August shows an increase of 12% YoY. Will office parties, team building events and client dinners be exactly what this segment needs to get over the hump? Only time will tell. 
  • While Dunkin’s ad investment is down 27% YoY through August of 2022, the return to office announcements could be the cause of the increase in July (up 230% YoY) and August (up 780% YoY). Total ad investment for this company was $60.5mm from January – August of 2022. We will soon see if other commuter favorites follow suit.

Added bonuses

Not all recent increases in ad sales can be attributed to a return to the office. Here are some notable categories that are investing in ads now, but it isn’t likely attributable to shifting working conditions. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t target them!

  • Supply chain struggles were at their peak for home furnishing advertisers last year, so it isn’t a surprise to see this category up 7% YoY with over $4.2B invested in advertising through August of this year. Mattresses and furniture advertising increased 18% YoY and 74% YoY respectively. The combined investment of these two topped $512m through August.
  • The technology category increased advertising by 25% YoY. Through August we saw over $9b invested in advertising. Not surprisingly, cell phone advertising was a primary driver of this YoY growth. It was 12% of the total technology spend in 2022. Through August cell phone advertising was up 193% YoY. Alphabet, Apple, Samsung, and T-Mobile were top drivers in cell phone advertising. Combined spending through August from these names exceeded $1B.

To capitalize on an ever-changing advertising climate, it is important to regularly review which segments are spending on advertising and what is driving that ad investment. This will likely lead your team to uncover some hidden gems. Just because an advertiser or product category was down, you can never count them out because the ad landscape is always shifting.

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