Chances are, your RPMs in January will be lower than in Q4, so we want to help you be as prepared and educated as possible when it comes to the reasons why. One of the main reasons is that advertisers typically spend a larger amount of their annual spend budget in Oct-Dec than any other time of the year. Advertisers spend less of their budget in Q1 than Q4, for both standard display, sponsored content and influencers campaigns.
why RPMs drop in january
The slowest four months of the year for average RPMs are January, April, July and October. Media buyers usually plan spend on a quarterly basis and with the new plans comes new creative, new products 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.
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 lower. And outside of the occasional year where the Super Bowl falls in January, there aren’t many events tied to content creation or a spike in ad spend, however there are some seasonal moments to leverage below!
Here are some recommendations for what you can do to maximize January revenue
1. Silver lining alert! 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. Like slowly introduce your audience to affiliate programs or test some 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.
2. Back in October, we hosted a session on SEO & user experience tips that also help increase your RPM. Well, if you haven’t already, January’s the time to start implementing those recommendations. SHE Partners can watch the full session in their dashboard. I also presented a shortened version at BlogHer Business, you can read the summary here: https://www.blogher.com/news/seo-tips-that-increase-your-rpm.
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 offering. All of these recommendations are SEO and UX best practices, but can also increase your RPM.
3. Take this time to get ahead on your editorial calendar. Success comes to those who are prepared, isn’t that something prepared people say? Well, it’s true when it comes to planning out content. Ranking in Google organic search will be harder and more competitive than ever in 2020. 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, which posts performed 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!
4. Get your top performing content in top shape. Look at your top 20-50 performers and make sure they’re starting the new year in better shape than ever. If information is outdated, add current information. If the images are low-quality, replace them. Add some internal links to some of your other, related content.
5. Take a minute and update your About page & social profiles. Your About page should be current, fresh and interesting. Brands look here for sponsored content partnerships as well as when they work with influencers. Freshen up your social profiles.
6. For SHE Publishers, reach out for an SEO session or for one of our site health checks. 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.
7. There is still seasonal content to write about in Q1. We strategically hold our annual BlogHer Health conference in Jan or Feb each year because of the increased attention on health and wellness in 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 to think about being crafty, cooking, entertaining or covering a topic from your point of view. 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.
We always want to set the most realistic expectations for our partners on their revenue projections. So, although you may see an RPM decline in January, there are always optimization opportunities to maximize earnings!