Our direct partnerships with digital properties of all kinds, including news, entertainment and niche websites, allows us to see what customers are clicking on and reading about. 

2020, the year of COVID-19, brought a lot of changes. To find out exactly what that means on the open web, we analyzed 70 million monthly clicks to reveal how and when customers consume content on different advertiser campaign categories in Thailand. 


We’ve selected five interesting categories (auto, health, investment, home, and beauty) from our top advertising spending categories in Thailand to analyze readership trends, popular channels and days of week that advertisers can best target their audiences. The higher the viewable Click through rate (vCTR), the higher the demand for that content.

vCTR measures the percentage of users who clicked on the campaign items that were seen by users. Viewable CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks for your campaign items by the number of viewable impressions for your campaign items.

We’ll also discuss viewable impressions, which is the total number of times your campaign items are seen by users. Each time your campaign item is on the screen for one second (per MRC standards), it’s counted as one impression.

Finally, we analyzed this in conjunction with our readership data all in the January 1st 2020 to December 31st 2020 timeframe.


As expected and widely written about within Thailand, the Automotive industry was not the most popular topic during the pandemic outbreak earlier in the year due to economic instability and situation uncertainty. 

The interest came back when the situation in the country was more stable. An increase in vCTR in the beginning of Q4’20 is due to the coming of the annual Motor Show event in December. 

Most popular platform was mobile, with an average vCTR of 70%, and the most popular day of the week by vCTR was Sunday, when most audiences read articles on automobiles and click on ads in this category.


The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in people feeling more concerned about health, and an increase of vCTR on everything health-related (vitamins, health insurance, herb medicines, weight loss etc). There’s also an increase in advertising spending of this category by 23% compared to 2019. 

Most popular platform was mobile, at an 83% vCTR on average, while the most popular day of the week by vCTR was Wednesday, when most audiences read articles on health and click on ads in this category.


There’re various spikes in investment vCTR during Q2 and Q3, but in July, people paid a lot of attention to gold trading. A strike increase in gold price in July (+3,350baht per 1 baht gold) marks the highest jump in history recorded over the past 15 years, which attracts a lot of investors. 

As a result of that, we found that advertisers in our record have increased their spending upto 285% compared to 2019.

The most popular platform by vCTR was mobile at 60%, and the most popular day of the week was monday, when most people were reading and clicking on ads related to finance.



People stayed home more during the pandemic, not only due to the travel restriction, but also due to new work-from-home policies in many companies. Advertising about home furniture, home accessories or even home maintenance thus become a popular topic.  

The most popular mobile platform by vCTR was mobile at 80%, and the most popular day of the week was split between Saturday and Sunday, when people are staying at home, are when most audiences read articles on home improvement and click on ads in this category. 


Interest in beauty online advertising has grown. Due to the new normal environment that changes consumer behavior, people prefer to buy beauty products online and as a result, advertisers of this category have increased their advertising spending by 21% compared to 2019 to respond to the demand. 

The most popular platform by vCTR was mobile at 69%, and the most popular days of the week were Friday and Saturday when most audiences read articles on beauty and clicked on ads in this category.

Overall, we can see a difference in consumer behavior when it comes to advertising in some categories. Although Thailand was not badly affected as other countries, we can definitely notice people’s lifestyle has altered, thus affecting their interests and what they read. 

As expected, advertisers in popular categories have increased their advertising spending to reflect demand. Many sectors have benefited from this pandemic and we predict that it will continue in 2021. 

These trends are also happening globally, for example, in India, e-commerce and delivery service apps appeared in high traffic across the Taboola Network, showing a change in customer preference to online services for shopping and food delivery. In the US, vCTR in the beauty category has also increased 48% over the year. In AU, traffic about furniture has increased by 67% during the lockdown period. 

 Readership Trends

We experienced a readership bump both in number of readers and page views in January when there was a COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan and during Mid January when we found the first COVID-19 case in the country. 

The increase in March is due to the first covid outbreak in Thailand which the government announced to lock down all areas at the end of the month. Interest in the news remained high from March through May when Thais were spending time at home during a strict lockdown with curfew. 

As the year progressed, and the lockdown in Thailand was lifted, we can identify that the level of readership and pageviews in Thailand have declined over 30% since Jan. 

Similar trends have happened globally. When the world went into lockdown, people stayed home and visited a lot of news websites to inform themselves, but as the virus raged on, the level of interest in the news was not sustained as people grew tired of constantly reading the news. 

Life with COVID-19 became the “new normal” and news readership adjusted back to pre-pandemic levels. 

2021 Predictions 

Taboola’s CEO, Adam Singolda, shared three predictions for the rest of 2021.

E-commerce Advertising Budgets will increase, and it will elevate Publishers’ Revenue

Coronavirus hurt some industries, but it also created many new business opportunities in spaces like gardening, pets, at-home-beauty products, and fitness 

Two things changed in 2020 that will impact e-commerce in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Businesses truly understood not having an online presence where they’re ready to deliver value to consumers is a huge risk. 
  2. Out of necessity, consumers started experimenting with online buying in ways they have never done before. They’ve bought homes on Facetime, furniture they’ve never seen, hired online trainers, participated in online education and more. 

As people buy new types of products and find new ways to buy, e-commerce ad spend will reap the rewards in 2021. We saw e-commerce grow by approximately 43% in 2020 in Thailand, and I predict publishers will capitalize on this new behavior in a big way.

User Time Is Everything, Tick Tock, Tick Tock: Every Game, Every App will use Content to Engage Users

“I’m even more optimistic about the future of the open web, publishers and news organizations overall because soon, their content will be used everywhere to help engage consumers in new ways we have not seen before. We will see native applications, games, and device manufacturers incorporating news as a way to keep people more engaged—think Apple News—but everywhere. 

Similar to how Apple is using news to engage people with the iPhone, like on the minus one screen, in notifications and elsewhere, imagine every app benefitting from contextual news to engage users in real-time with their app:


  • Livescore could surface personalized content about your favorite team alongside score updates so you don’t leave after checking the score.
  • Calm could recommend more content related to spirituality and relaxation after a session is completed so you don’t get meditation and leave.”


Diversity will Become a Proxy for Success, Similar to Gross Margin

“Real diversity taps into talents, creativity and perspectives from so many communities, backgrounds and cultures that it organically enriches any team, product or service that embraces it.

Companies with diverse employees can better relate to and target diverse consumers. For companies like Taboola, brands and agencies will expect us to bring to them a network of diverse publishers. Having diverse talent would increase our chance of winning those diverse partners and customers.

I predict that in the future, starting in 2021, diversity, equity and inclusion will not only continue to rise in its level of importance because it’s the right thing to do, but because people will understand that when the workplace is diverse and inclusive, their chances of success grows. Similar to how investors look at gross margin, they will start to investigate how diverse teams are or whether companies have a concrete plan to incorporate more diversity before making investments.” 

Originally Published:

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