Why RPMs Drop in January
Shopping slows down in January, wallets are worn, and sales taper off. In a less aggressive spending period, fill rates are lower and there is less competition for ad inventory, making Advertiser CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) lower. Budgets can still be up in the air and tend to be much less aggressive in the first few months of each year.
Because of this, advertisers typically spend the largest amount of their annual spend budget in Q4, or October-December. Additionally, media buyers usually plan to spend on a quarterly basis, and with the new plans comes new creative, new product pushes different deals, and promotions. Campaigns start slow and gain traction over time. So, take into account that January is the start of a new quarter and a brand new year. Direction can change last minute, creative approvals come down to the wire, campaigns start late.
Despite all of this, there are still some seasonal moments you can leverage at the beginning of each year.
Ways to Maximize Your January Revenue
1. There’s less risk in January than any other month of the year as well. It’s the best time to test that list of recommendations you’ve been meaning to do for months. Try slowly introducing your audience to affiliate programs or test new SEO content strategies. Create some videos or switch up your internal linking strategy. This will allow you to gain insight on performance with less risk if your users have a negative reaction to the strategies you try. Any technical site changes, like a taxonomy update or migration that you’ve been tentative to do, January is the month to do it.
2. Take a closer look at your ad layout to determine if there are ways to optimize for viewability. Or maybe there is room to include units in your layout. Increases to either of these metrics will ultimately results in more revenue. It’s also the perfect time to look outside of traditional banners to more lucrative, high-impact ad products. Video ads, for example, tend to yield 3x the RPMs compared to standard display.
3. I previously hosted a session on how SEO and user experience tips can help increase your RPM. January’s the time to start implementing those recommendations. SHE Media Partner Network members can watch the full session in their dashboard, or you can read a short summary here.
These tips include increasing your font size on mobile, writing longer articles, breaking up content more, and adding a monetized video strategy into your content. All of these recommendations are SEO and UX best practices, but can also increase your RPM.
4. Take this time to get ahead on your editorial calendar. Ranking in Google organic search will be harder and more competitive than ever in 2021. Make informed and intentional decisions when it comes to what you write and how you deliver each piece to your audience.
Review your data from last year, and note which posts performed best in which months. Do keyword research ahead of time to plan content that you know people are searching for. Take the time to check the search results to see who is ranking in the top spots for your potential targeted keyword and create something better!
5. Get your top-performing content in top shape. Look at your top 20-50 performers and replace outdated information, low-quality images, and broken links.
6. Take a minute and update your About page & social profiles. This is where brands look for potential sponsored content partnerships.
7. If you’re a SHE Media Partner Network member, reach out for an SEO session or site health check-up. Re-visit all of our available ad products and services (another webinar session you can watch directly in your dashboard) and test something new in January on your ad layout or ad technology.
8. There is still seasonal content to write about in Q1. We strategically hold our annual BlogHer Health conference in January or February each year because of the increased attention on health and wellness at the beginning of each year. For food blogs, popular topics in January include healthy recipes, diet information, meal prepping, and planning. For lifestyle bloggers, it’s goal setting, habits and resolutions can hit home with your audience. There are holidays and events in Q1, including New Year’s, the Super Bowl, several award shows, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day.
There are also several 3-day weekends in January with MLK Jr Day and President’s Day. This increases searches around road trips, travel, and sales. Increase your content production frequency in January and continue to search for ways to pair evergreen content with seasonal events.
As you can see, there are always optimization opportunities to maximize earnings!