After the most successful season for publishers has ended, inevitably, comes the Q1 of 2020, who we greet with a little bit of disappointment. Seasons change, and so does our reports.
Seasonality plays a significant role in publishers' ad revenues throughout the whole year, so it is no surprise that it is also partly responsible for the sudden January drop.
So what exactly does seasonality mean for publishers?
As Google puts it, seasonality is any predictable fluctuation or pattern that occurs during the same weeks each year.'
But additionally to predictable seasonal activities (Cultural, Commercial or other), publishers are also profoundly impacted by internet user trends and advertiser activities.
As January returns, so do the regular working days. Due to this, the traffic to your website might increase as people get back to their everyday routines.
But advertiser activities in January, however, will decrease. Advertisers have spent their big budgets in November and December and are a lot quieter at the beginning of the year.
All of this leads to the significant eCPM drop publishers experience in January.
We compared three websites from our network and looked at how the January drop affected them.
The 2018/2019 data shows that all websites experienced a significant drop on the 31st of December. After that, for all three sites, the drop continues. We can see that the eCPM slowly starts to recover as the month goes on, with decreases and increases at different dates of the month.
Last year in January, publishers on our network experienced approx. 20% decrease on average eCPM.
This year is no different. By looking at only the first ten days of January, we can see that publishers experience on average a 30% eCPM decrease.
As January is barely in half, we expect better results at the end of the month.
How to make the best out of this situation?
Although the eCPM statistics might not exactly put a smile on publishers’ faces, the thought that everyone is experiencing this January drop might somehow soothe the anxiety when looking at website reports.
On the bright side, the slow start of the year makes it a perfect time for publishers to make changes on their websites and find ways to earn more.
Our experts suggest:
Give programmatic a higher priority
As direct campaigns have decreased in January, our top suggestion would be to provide more ad inventory for programmatic sales. More inventory, even with lower CPMs, will result in programmatic revenue increase.
Reduce floor prices
To avoid unfilled impressions, we suggest experimenting with lowering the floor prices. The average eCPM will decrease, but the fill rate will get higher.
Keep revenue increase at your focus; it is possible even with lower eCPMs.
Add more demand partners
If you currently are only using Google as your only partner, we would suggest adding more SSPs. Each demand source has unique buyers that will make bigger competition for your inventory and increase your average eCPM. As this is a time-consuming process, for immediate results, we suggest to partner up with a yield management company like Setupad.
Optimize website performance
We recommend to monitor viewability rates and change the ad placement positions in order to increase them. As viewability increases, so will ad revenue. This is also an excellent time to try new ad formats, such as sticky ads.