Today’s blog is written by Lindsay Valdez, Associate Director of Audience Development, at Freestar.
Q4 is the peak season of ad spending and revenue. From what Freestar can see from spending, talking with our partners, and researching/reading what’s happening in the industry, we’re optimistic that ad spending will be positive this Q4.
Ad spend in Q4 is projected to be less in 2022 than in 2021 but expected to have year-over-year growth. From 2020 to 2021, we saw an ad revenue increase of 23%. We had brands with high budgets to spend after the pandemic so it was uncharacteristically high. The main factors for this year’s projection are the uncertainty of the economy and the talk of a recession; we’ve yet to see what the political landscape will look like and how cookies will impact or have started to impact the industry.
Let’s walk through what you can do to earn more this Q4.
8 Things You Can Do to Earn More in Q4
Update seasonal performers – This can vary depending on what kind of publisher you are. For example, think of publishing content like gift guides and holiday recipes. Find ways to be a little more creative on what areas of your website you bring in any seasonal coverage.
If you’ve been doing this for years, you may have top historical performances, and you have things that you’ve done that are niche to your brand. You can find your top performers on Google Analytics, and you can look at updating:
- Current information
- Product Integration
- Interesting headline
- Make more engaging
- Update the date
- Follow trends
- Long-tail targeting
New content creation:
- Interlink posts – Create new content with a different headline and angle, and link your article. Over time, that’s what lifts your authority for those topics.
- Google the topic for competitive research and formatting tips – Do your research and see what existing content is performing well so you can use that as guidance to produce your new content.
- Keyword research – Look at what keywords you’re missing and what you’re competitors are lacking and develop new content around those keywords.
- Shoppable angles – An article could mention a product/service or a simple book review, publishers should try to incorporate affiliate links or revenue plans for the products/services they’re pitching in their content.
Website readability – Once your content looks good, you should turn your attention to the article template on mobile and desktop. It’s essential to see how your article looks on a screen. You want to ensure your content is readable to users because the more they read, the longer they are on the page, and the more ads they will be served. To make your website readable, consider the following:
- Body copy isat least 16-18px
- Line height is 1.5-1.6
- Content is visible in the first view
- Layout is uncluttered and clean
- There are short paragraphs
- Content is easy to digest
- Content is highly scannable (ex. bullet points, headings)
Technical UX best practices – Don’t forget to structure your content that focuses on user experience. That includes:
- Seamless navigation – Users need to be able to move around your website easily.
- Easy IA (information architecture) – Structure your content so it’s easier for users to find what they’re looking for. A good way to start is developing a sitemap to see what pages you have and what hierarchy they follow.
- Linking hierarchy – Linking hierarchy supports your information architecture and makes sure all pages are connected. Linking supports user click-paths by aligning keywords to intents, intents to content, content to pathways.
- Accessibility – It’s essential to consider the needs of a wider audience. The more accesibile your website is, the more users and traffic will come to your website.
- Speed – Speed plays a large role on search engines and users. Users don’t like having to wait for a page to load and Google has their Core Web Vitals that takes speed into account. It’s important to design your website with speed in mind and that includes:
- Images compressed
- Plugin speed audit
- Compressing code
Implement video ad units – Video is one of Freestar’s tried and true products that we have seen historically lift revenue. Freestar has typically seen 3-4x the CPMs on video compared to display which often occupies the same real estate on the page. It’s a great way to lift revenue and capitalize on the amount of spending from large brands through the holiday season.
Freestar’s video products are completely customizable and tailored specifically for your website. The video products are customized during the initial setup process, where we do all the heavy lifting on our end. Depending on the product, it’s simply adding an <div> on the page.
Freestar has several partnerships with various video ad technology vendors. Depending on your site’s specific needs, we have tested and verified all the vendors, and we believe they’re some of the best out there.
The video ad units we recommend include:
- Video adhesion – This is Freestar’s popular video ad product. It performs incredibly well and requires minimal effort to add to your site. It rotates between serving display and video, so you capture the best of both worlds where you see CPM rates in the range of $2.00-$5.00 for the video blended with the CPMs you’re getting from the display. The CPMs include the high fill rates from display as well.
Freestar runs this format with no video content shown, so it is pure monetization. Our team has tested the ad unit against core web vitals, which minimizes page speed and UX while maximizing CPMs.
- Average CPMs: $2.00-$5.00
- Video ads only (no content)
- Easy to deploy
- Compatible with all devices
- The position is customizable (bottom, top)
- Optimized demand stack
- The results we’ve seen include:
- A lifestyle site saw a 32% revenue increase and 6.5x higher CPMs than display.
- An interactive learning site saw over a 30% increase in total revenue.
- A finance site saw over 37% uplift.
- In-content/in-article video –In-content/in-article video may seem similar to video adhesion. Still, its main difference is that it’s around generating video videos of the video content monetized with in-stream advertising. For in-content/in-article video, average CPMs range from $2.00-$10.00. What we see, especially for a site with long duration on the page, is the ability to deliver multiple ads per pageview, which adds up, and CPMs can go as high as $15 to $20.
Video is constantly running in the player. The video content can be your original content that we can pull from YouTube, an RSS feed, or manual upload. Freestar also offers a variety of options from our video platform if you don’t have original content. Our team customizes and tests these videos, and the best part is that they’re optimized to plug in with our demand easily.
- A new source of in-stream video
- Average CPMs: $2.00-$10.00+
- Easy to deploy
- Compatible with all devices
- Instream ads + video content
- O&;O content
- Third-party licensed content
- Best-in-class video technology partners
- Freestar-optimized demand stack
Implement high-impact sidewalls – High-impact sidewalls are an ad format that does not have video and is only available on a desktop. It only delivers under specific circumstances, like when there’s enough blank space on the left and right side of the website. You can also do it on either side or just the left or right.
This ad product has a very high viewability, which will boost your sitewide viewability score. Sitewide viewability score is something that advertisers look for, and that’s not only in Q4. This viewability score is similar to the sticky footer and video adhesion-type products.
- Sticky element for high impact and viewability
- Valuable inventory
- Easily deployable
- Display only
- Average CPMs: $1.50-$1.80
Q4 is here. If you haven’t, there’s certainly enough time this next month to optimize from all directions. The optimizations include updating your website content from updating seasonal performers to developing new contact and adding new ad units like video adhesion, in-content/in-article video, and high-impact side walls. These changes will have a positive impact on your revenue.
If you have any questions about how you can earn more in Q4, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or get started with Freestar. We’re here to help our publishers achieve their long-term goals to take their business to the next level.