During the holidays, seasonal increases in traffic and eCPMs create an opportunity for publishers like you to earn more revenue. Follow this checklist to make sure you're prepared.
Seasonality is any predictable fluctuation or pattern that occurs during the same weeks each year. Seasonality events fall under three main categories:
- Cultural (Examples: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Lunar New Year)
- Commercial (Examples: Black Friday, Mothers Day, Amazon Prime Day)
- Ad hoc (Examples: Sporting tournaments, elections)
Seasonal fluctuations in revenue during these events are driven by:
- Users (higher query opportunities): Internet traffic increases during the holidays as users spend more time online consuming content or purchasing gifts.
- Advertisers (higher eCPMs): Competition for inventory increases as advertisers spend more effort to promote their products and brands during the peak season.
The combination of increased internet traffic and increased advertiser spend around the holidays creates a significant revenue opportunity. Consider these statistics:
- There was a 663% sales increase on Black Friday in 2018 compared to an ordinary day.
- In 2017, queries on Google Search for "Black Friday" grew twice (2x) as much in Central and Western Europe. While the US, UK, Spain and Sweden have highest interest per capita in Black Friday events and sales, European markets have the fastest growing interest.
- Alibaba, an online retailer in Asia similar to Amazon, had $25 billion USD in sales in one day on Singles Day in 2018. In the same year, shoppers spent $1 billions USD in first 90 seconds of Singles Day.
- There's expected sales of $1 trillion in eCommerce across Europe and Americas in 2019.
Make sure you're prepared to benefit from this opportunity by preparing your site and Ad Manager account for the holiday season.
Seasonal increases in traffic and CPMs generally begin in September, peak late November, and drop back to normal in January. Start preparing your site as early as possible with optimizations or related content before seasonal increases.
Timeline to guide planning
Keep in mind that seasonal opportunities depend heavily on your audience. Even if a certain holiday is not celebrated in your region, your audience might still celebrate it. Remember also that some seasonal fluctuations may occur over a multi-year cycle. Examples include presidential elections and the World Cup.
You can explore additional seasonal opportunities using Google Trends or similar tools.
Before the holiday season begins, make sure your site is in top shape to benefit from increased user traffic and high advertiser CPMs.
Keeping users on your site is key to serving more impressions and earning more revenue. Make sure your homepage is engaging and your site navigation is clear. These initial features often determine whether users will stay and engage with your content or become impatient and leave the site. You can also use site search to help users find what they need more quickly.
The holiday season is a great time to attract new users. One way to do this is through partnering with other content creators to share each other’s content. Another is to expand your presence on social media. YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter can be great ways to reach users across different platforms.
Users who have to wait for pages to load or can't browse will likely go elsewhere. Page speed on mobile devices is particularly important, as more users are browsing content through their smartphones and tablets. Use Google PageSpeed Insights Chrome extension or other tools to ensure users can get to your content quickly.
Certain keyword searches spike on Google and other search engines during the holiday season. For example, searches related to Black Friday shopping increased by 1,150% on Google in 2018 from November to December.
Google Trends or other similar tools can help you discover key topics during the holidays for your audience. For example, you can explore trends for YouTube traffic on Google Trends in order to create videos relevant to search terms and your audience.
Mobile usage and search is increasing. Over half of web traffic now comes from mobile. Test your site on mobile to make sure users can access a positive experience across devices.
Make sure your ad inventory and line items are working smoothly to benefit from increased traffic and eCPMs. These tips help you get ready to drive revenue gains across your indirect sales.
Advertisers want to pay for ads that will be seen. Focus on improving your viewability to benefit from increased CPMs during the holiday season. Increase your viewability with these best practices, including implementing lazy loading and placing ads above-the-fold. Additionally, check out our viewability demo and this global viewability analysis for a better understanding of what drives ad viewability across web and apps.
Excessively restrictive or incorrectly set up "General categories" blocks lowers competition for your inventory and can cause you to miss out on important demand. Review rules and only block categories that are absolutely necessary. Consider blocking specific "Advertiser URLs", rather than entire categories instead.
Maximize your CPMs by allowing different ad sizes to compete in the same ad slot. Make sure to select Generate multi-size creative when configuring your Ad Exchange line item. Once you've generated multi-size creatives, you can also set multi-size pricing in unified pricing rules, which enables you to charge higher CPMs to serve larger creatives.
Traffic Ad Exchange and AdSense line items to make your inventory available to the Open Auction. These types of line item automatically leverage dynamic allocation, a feature that can maximize your revenue without compromising delivery of your guaranteed line items. Dynamic allocation helps you to take advantage of auction buyers willing to pay high CPMs during the holiday season. Make sure your value CPMs are accurate so that your auctions compete with the most up-to-date network CPMs.
Ensure that you follow good practice and define "Ad content" rules under Protections to define the inventory you want available in the Open Auction, rather than target this inventory directly in your Ad Exchange and AdSense line items
Rather than setting price floors, use target CPM in unified pricing rules to set an average CPM for your inventory. This can help you earn more revenue over time by adjusting floor prices to match more bids.
Limit your use of passbacks. Passbacks reduce CPMs due to loss of targeting criteria and add latency, which lowers your viewability.
Finally, use these tools to track your site’s performance throughout the holiday season and to build off audience insights.
Monitor insights cards for account trend data. Insights cards let you compare your network's latency and viewability with other Ad Manager networks that have similar impression volume and inventory. They can also help you spot anomalies or ad serving patterns in your network that could affect your revenue negatively—like, for instance, an upsurge in unfilled impressions. Take action to correct anomalies or patterns in order to maximize holiday revenue.
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