Q4, the final quarter of the year, is an interesting time for publishers and advertisers.
The festive season drives higher purchase volumes, and being aware of these seasonal buying trends, advertisers tend to double down and increase their advertising spend across programmatic channels. This increased spend means higher CPMs for publishers.
According to research published by Bazaarvoice, 45% read reviews before making a purchase. How this plays out is users visiting product review and price comparison websites to find the best deals during the holiday season, driving additional traffic for publishers.
The math here is easy: Higher CPMs + More Traffic = $$$.
Even though the quarter events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year exhibit markedly high buying activity. Apart from shopping, people also spend on travel and buy vacations around this time. Taking all of these factors into account—the will to spend and time to spare—it’s easy to see why Q4 is so profitable for online businesses.
Just because Q4 is great does not mean it can’t be better. Here are some tips for publishers to get more traffic and fine-tune their ad inventory to get even better returns than usual.
1. Refresh High-Traffic Content
Blog posts or content pages that drive the highest traffic to your website are your goldmines. You need to keep them up-to-date in order to keep up with your competitors. This effort pays off not just in Q4 but also in the quarters coming ahead. Updating posts that already bring high traffic will increase their chances of showing up at a good position in SERPs. And as an additional benefit, this practice will improve your overall search authority too.
2. Focus on Seasonal Content
Study historical data to find content/keywords that correlate with increased search volume during the holiday season. These pages are seasonal content. Use Google Analytics to find pages/content that get high traffic during a specific season (Q4, in this instance). Once you have the results, try and create similar content for this year as well. Google Trends shows real-time traffic stats on specific keywords for different niche and geographical locations. Use this free service by Google to find out other seasonal opportunities.
3. Try Video and Rich Media Ads
Video and rich media ads are known to be highly engaging. Since there is an expected rise in traffic this quarter, adding video and rich media ad units can help boost user engagement. During Q4, advertisers also seek user engagement and are ready to spend more on better quality inventory. Hence, this could be a good time for publishers to start with video and rich media ads. Drive more ad revenue in return for offering better user engagement.
4. Review Inventory and Floor Price
You should review your ad inventory with respect to layout and pricing. Since advertisers are willing to spend more, this could be a good time to increase the floor price. Based on the industry trends, market rates, and advertiser requirements, publishers should update the price for their fixed inventory too. Additionally, check the historic performance of ad units to discover which ones might benefit from the increased floor price.
5. Utilize Mobile Traffic
Most users prefer to use their smartphones for doing a quick research. And this behavior increases during the holiday shopping season. Consequently, advertisers readily purchase mobile inventory. Keeping that in mind, publishers are advised to add popular mobile ad formats to their pages. Next, enable targeting on ad unit level to attract a larger pool of advertisers. And finally, mobile webpages should be reviewed and optimized for page speed.
6. Enable Geo-targeting
Geographical or location-based targeting is when ads appear only to users from a specified location (country, city, and even down to the radius around a point location). Generally, advertisers with brick-and-mortar businesses go for geo-targeting. Geo-targeting should work for publishers with niche traffic from specific geo-locations. Geo-targeted ads are more personalized and tend to get better engagement, CTRs, and conversion. Enabling geo-targeted ads during the fourth quarter can improve your ad performance and inventory quality.
7. Don’t Redesign Your Website
Website redesigning is not a one-step process. It is more like an ongoing, time-consuming project where updates keep coming up for a long time. Even small changes in design could have large and unpredictable effects on user experience and behavior. Hence, publishers are advised not to make any major changes or to the sites during Q4. If anything goes south, chances are that it would create sizeable losses. Instead, focus on optimizing content.
8. Review Your Hosting Provider/Plan
For certain publishers, Q4 brings more traffic than expected. But is your web hosting service ready to handle the sudden spike in the number of users? No user would wait on a slow-loading site for too long. Cheap or unreliable hosting sometimes causes high page load times or site loading failure for users. Publishers should invest in a good hosting service with enough bandwidth to be able to handle the increase in users during the fourth quarter.
9. Get Ad Ops Expertise
Managing content and ad inventory together can be a difficult task. Hence, in such times, publishers should consider opting for professional help. Larger publishers with dedicated in-house ad ops teams may be able to juggle everything. However, small to medium publishers may want to take the help of outsourced ad ops. Either way, professional expertise in ad operations is necessary to improve inventory performance and value.
Are You Ready for Q4?
Even though Q4 is said to be the golden period for publishers, it’s not easy to predict the exact revenue you’ll make. However, publishers should start by checking previous year trends. This should get you an idea about the increase in traffic and revenue you can expect.
With seasonal trends, a little planning goes a long way. For instance, a few weeks before Black Friday, advertisers notice an increase in click-through and order rates. At the same time, users look for online product reviews. Planning a content calendar based on these insights and around specific events should help you make the most of Q4.
Speaking of quarterly performance, publishers should also know that Q1 typically brings a sizeable drop in traffic and revenue. The festive season ends and initiates a decrease in traffic. So, while designing strategy for the Q4, keep the January slump in the mind.