Digital publishers, look outside. On northern hemisphere it’s getting colder, on southern – temperatures fly higher and higher just like Christmas ads on your websites, wherever in the world you are. Well, temperature fluctuates with the season, and so does traffic on your sites. Some months are excellent for your ad revenue and ad optimization, others – bad as a hell. And right now for digital publishers, as Ned Stark used to say, winter is coming.
Although December is excellent for digital advertising, on the northern hemisphere the most freezing time comes just after – in January. Unsurprisingly, this occurs because of the new annual perspective and budget planning taking place at the beginning of the year. But that can depend on the country, where some places have other more crucial low points. And let’s not forget that winter can sometimes come in summer. Not literally, but traffic sure does freeze for digital publishers then.
The highs and lows of digital advertising
It’s good to know when these low points and high points are during the year. It’ll help you plan ahead and prepare your digital advertising accordingly. So let’s take a look at our calendars and see which months are better or worse for digital publishers. The following agenda is based on the experience of the northern hemisphere, but many of the observations are universal. And some exceptions are pointed below.
- Beginning of the winter is a high time for digital publishers: nearly all brands want to be noticed. The tradition of giving presents on Christmas and New Year’s Eve is spread worldwide and that’s a great advertising trigger. It’s a pleasure to observe, how curves climb up on revenue charts.
- But few days later this machine, that seemed to work nearly perfectly so far, gets jammed. That what happens at the first days of January. Even with ad optimization, there’s no way around it. Everyone spends less time on their devices, so less time seeing your ads. Add to this lower levels of economic and political activity, meaning less news, it’s no wonder it’s such a bad time for your ad revenue.
- In January, most advertisers and media agencies plan their budgets and media. This also leads to lower activity and ad revenue.
- Things start to get better towards the end of January, but it’s still not looking great. Since January and February still have holidays for a lot of Europeans and North Americans, their activity and ad revenue is still pretty low. For example, in Russia and other Orthodox countries, Christmas takes place in January.
- Stuff starts to really kick-off in March. It will continue to build from there and last until June. It’s a definite high season for digital publishers, so prepare all your forces and ad optimizers team for then.
- Unfortunately, the summer months make digital publisher’s revenues freeze. People leave for the holidays for days, weeks, sometimes even months. They spend more time on things like surfing the ocean instead of surfing the web. So advertiser activity isn’t very high.
- Things start to get better at the end of August – for both advertisers and digital publishers. Advertisers get a better reach of their target group, and publishers are happy with a higher number of pageviews and more advertisers.
- September is all about ‘back to school’ and back to business – especially for digital advertising. Campaigns start getting delivered in bigger volumes as media agencies and publishers try to get higher results. Especially since it’s the last month of the quarter.
- September until the end of December is again an excellent season of the year. Bring up your forces and ad inventory for this period as well.
It’s just a matter of time (and yield)
This schedule is for northern-Atlantic regions, like Europe and North America. But this pattern isn’t fully universal. For example, many Muslim areas celebrate Ramadan, and this month-long holiday has no recurring start or end date. It can get a bit messy. Just have a look at this table:
Another factor to consider is the timing of summer vacations, especially for schools, in different parts of the world. Even if countries are nearby regionally, they can have differing vacation dates (For example, German school holidays are from mid-June until mid-September, whereas in Poland it’s between July and August).
Furthermore, calendars in southern countries look much different. In Brazil, school holidays begin in December and finish towards the end of January. In southern India, they take place between April and June. And since school holidays are positively correlated with low seasons in the economy, that applies to digital advertising as well.
Other factors influencing digital advertising
Don’t give up all hope though! Low seasons are not necessarily dead seasons. Some specific products are advertised during these unusual times, mostly seasonal events. So things like New Year’s parties, final sales, tourist products, etc.
You can’t forget about sport, cultural or political events. Just to mention few that occurred in 2016: the Olympic Games, football championships, Academy Awards, elections in major countries (i.e. primaries and elections in the United States). All of them were topics widely discussed around a world and received a lot of attention. Many advertisers took an advantage to reach their audience on these occasions. That effected in in their budget planning and as a result, in revenue received by publishers.
Better yield management with the help of programmatic
When predicting what your results will be, keep the time of year in mind. Not all months are equal in terms of advertising and publishing possibilities.
There are ways for digital publishers to help themselves in better yield management. Cooperating with a partner that provides a strong advertising demand and/or knows how to manage ad inventory can minimize the negatives aspects of low seasons. Experienced partners and their demand might still be affected by seasonal fluctuation. But for digital publishers, having such a good partner allows for a soften the blow of your decreased ad revenue.
The high and low seasons in digital advertising are natural things – it’s like cycles in the economy. So when they happen and you see your figures going down, don’t panic. Even if you do everything to prevent it, it’s still usually going to happen. It’s normal. Just sit down, relax, wait for the good times to come soon and let your optimizing partner do job for you.