Publisher Tips for a Holiday Bonus

Back-to-school campaigns have just ended and it’s already time to focus on the 2014 holiday season. So, what trends will emerge and how can you optimize your revenue strategy?

Maybe your Q4 strategy is already locked down with planned content and confirmed sales, but our guess is that everyone could benefit from a few tips – especially if it means more revenue. To maximize revenue this 2014 holiday season, we suggest publishers do the following: 1) appraise their content performance, 2) prepare for tablet shopping opportunities, and 3) incorporate programmatic into their revenue mix.

2013 Holiday Shopping Results

Last year, the IAB reported that ad revenues reached $12.1 billion in Q4, a 17 percent increase from 2012. Consumer holiday spend may not have been the monumental year that industry pundits were expecting, but it still reflected that consumers are shifting to more online spending and the 2014 holiday season will most likely surpass last year’s results. Not only did ad revenue reflect high growth, but m-commerce accounted for 21 percent of sales on Black Friday alone. In order to be successful with today’s savvy consumers, your ad units need to be in-view, reach the right audience, and mobile-friendly.

Content Check-Up

The first thing you should do is take a pulse on how your content is performing year-to-date. Keep a keen eye on what’s being shared on social media platforms and measure content that is being shared privately via email and chat. Monitor the keywords that are triggering new traffic and be aware of what content that is not performing very well. Keep these insights in mind as you create more content for the busy holiday season. Put your analytics tools to good use to ensure that you efficiently monetize the high volume of traffic and revenue that comes during this busy time of year. If you don’t have a social content analytics tool, get one.

Don’t Miss Out on Mobile

Clearly, if you aren’t prepared for mobile, you may be missing out on a significant amount of revenue. A key consumer trend to account for is how people are shopping. Consumers are engaging in sit-back shopping via their tablet device and searching for and sharing content to help them find the perfect gift. Like pumpkin pie, shopping for deals during Thanksgiving is a long-standing tradition and most likely is a topic around the dinner table. Given today’s need for instant gratification, publishers should expect that tablets and phones will also make an appearance on the table as consumers map out their own online and in-store shopping strategies. Many cooks would consider this rude, but to publishers, making sure your site is optimized for tablet usage is one more way for you to monetize incoming traffic. Remember, all ads were not created equal. Take care that your ads are tablet-optimized, giving your audience an ideal user experience.

Plug in to Programmatic

According to comScore, last year’s top-performing retail categories were video game consoles, apparel and accessories, and consumer electronics. It’s no surprise that Apple has chosen to release a new set of products to generate a buzz or maybe a roar prior to the holiday season. This is the time of year to lean into programmatic revenue opportunities to capture all of the potential shoppers that may come to your site. In 2013 programmatic emerged as the biggest digital media trend, with $4.7 billion spent in the U.S. This year spend will continue to increase as Magna Global estimates that programmatic will reach $17 billion in the U.S. by 2017.

Top brands are shifting more spend to programmatic, so publishers need to maximize revenue and fill all excess inventory. Investigate supply-side platforms like AppNexus, OpenX, and Pubmatic to leverage their audience monetization capabilities. Their insights will help you get a higher CPM and increase fill. Also, be on the lookout for new offerings that supercharge your revenue. For example, 33Across’ new ad units for publishers dynamically sense user intent and social signals – perfect for the holiday season, as search and social referrals skyrocket in Q4 as users look to social media channels and peers for gift inspirations.

It is looking like 2014 will be an even bigger holiday season this year and, with the right tweaks, publishers will reap the same benefits that retailers do this year. By following these steps, we’d estimate an incremental 15 to 30 percent more revenue in Q4 for publishers – a nice holiday bonus!

Image via Shutterstock.

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