The fourth quarter of the calendar year is traditionally when many publishers see their ad earnings profits soar. Holiday season spending drives advertisers and marketers to increase their budgets; leading to more competition for publisher inventory. This means ad rates and publisher earnings usually see their high point this time of year.
The industry seems to be abuzz with questions about the current state of publisher earnings from digital advertising. There are genuine questions of whether ad rates are up or down in the industry with few sources offering physical transparency.
What the Ad Revenue Index seems to be saying — despite rumors of declining digital ad rates — is that publisher earnings from programmatic advertising are actually rising. This correlates with reports of increased digital spending in the marketplace.
What do we know about ad earnings in 2017?
Despite industry questions, digital ad rates saw record increases in 2017 - meaning that, according to the Ad Revenue Index, 2017 was a record year for digital ad revenue for online publishers.
The index looks at EPMV as its core metric; meaning it is able to account for all publisher changes during this span by looking at how much publishers are actually earning per session from ads. This accounts for all monetization changes while establishing a true north for total revenue per visitor.
Past ad rate trends in November & December
In the last two years, publisher earnings have peaked in the month of November. In 2015, the highest earnings occurred at beginning of November with the highest weekly averages occurring the weeks following Black Friday — bleeding into early December. The 2015 low point came towards the end of the month — right before the inevitable Q1 drop on January 1.
In 2016, Black Friday marked the highpoint of the season. This also served as the previous high watermark on the revenue index (see below for the new one). Rates were above average for Most of November in 2016 but saw dramatic increases in the days leading up to Black Friday.
Ad Earnings in November 2017
- Ad rates in November 2017 were up 18.7% in 2017 compared to 2016 (prior to Black Friday)
- Last year ad rates started increasing substantially in Q4 on Tuesday, Nov 22 and peaked (setting a previous record index high) on Black Friday
- The Q4 ad rates bubble usually runs from November 20-December 31, with an average 35% drop in publisher earnings on January 1
- Ad rates usually hit annual lows until approximately January 28 — this is when they typically start to recover from the Q1 drop
Black Friday 2017 sets new publishing earning record
On Friday November 24, the Ad Revenue Index reached a new record. Publishers saw their highest total EPMVs ever witnessed by the index.
Black Friday has traditionally marked a point at which advertisers expend the largest portions of their budgets to capitalize on holiday spending. This increased competition leads to higher earnings for publishers, and we see once again this year, that digital spending and competition is on the rise. This continues to benefit digital publishers.
How publishers should be treating this information
One of the most obvious questions publishers should be asking themselves in light of some of this data is, how are my session earnings lining up with these seasonal trends? Calculating EPMV for your site is very simple (earnings divided by 1,000 visitors). Understanding how your site’s EPMV compares to the index can give you some insights regarding how your property is fairing in line with industry trends — something Ezoic helps publishers do automatically using machine learning.
Make sure to keep an eye on the Ad Revenue Index this season to stay on top of changes and trends.
Tyler Bishop, Head of Marketing, Ezoic.