How to Maximize Ad Revenue This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, and though there’s uncertainty around how consumers will react to ongoing inflation concerns, we can still expect growth this year. eMarketer predicts holiday retail sales will grow 3.3% over 2021, reaching $1.26 trillion in the US. 

Marketers are eager to capitalize on the holiday opportunity: an IAB survey of brands and agencies projects a 7% increase in ad spend during the second half of 2022 despite the current economic landscape.

So how can you optimize demand and maximize ad revenue throughout the holidays and Q4? Here’s what you need to know about marketers’ plans and the steps you can take to win more ad spend. 

How are brands planning for the holiday season?

Ad spend is following consumer behavior

As consumers spend more time on digital channels—an average of 8 hours and 14 minutes each day, the majority of which is spent on mobile—marketers are focused on optimizing their campaigns to engage audiences across every channel.

Connected TV (CTV) and mobile in particular are capturing marketers’ interest. eMarketer estimates the mobile ad market will reach $168.9 billion this year, representing 67.9% of total digital ad spend. Investment in streaming continues to grow along with viewership, with CTV ad spend expected to grow 32.3% over 2021 to reach $19.1 billion this year. 

Peak advertising days extend from Thanksgiving well into December

As in recent years, holiday shopping will begin earlier and last longer, and you can expect marketers to plan their campaigns accordingly. We looked back at 2021 and saw that brands across all industries began ramping up their ad campaigns throughout the fall, with peak ad activity during Thanksgiving week and on Cyber Monday. The first two weeks of December also ranked high as consumers rounded out their shopping. 

Calendar showing top advertising days in November and December 2021 per Index Exchange platform data

The biggest marketers during the holiday season, retail and CPG brands, followed the same trend. We can see ad spend increased across retail categories ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales before returning to normal levels in the last week of December.  

Chart showing 2021 retail ad spend by category from October through December 2021 per Index Exchange platform data

Three tips to attract more holiday spend and maximize ad revenue 

1. Help marketers win consumer attention on any screen 

With an ever-growing amount of content available across a range of devices and channels, consumer attention is more fragmented than ever. Not only are marketers challenged to seamlessly engage holiday shoppers across every screen, but they’re also facing unique economic challenges that are influencing consumer behavior. This year is all about helping marketers improve performance and efficiency across every channel. 

Marketers understand that consumers shift devices throughout the day, and they’re looking to optimize their campaigns to reach the right audience, on the right device, at the right time. Connect with buyers and clearly communicate the value of your audience as well as the premium inventory you have available. 

For instance, as consumers spend more time on mobile, offering curated inventory by genre can help marketers reach holiday-specific audience segments more efficiently. Likewise in CTV, showcasing inventory around holiday movies and other themed programming provides an opportune way for marketers to engage their audiences while they’re in the holiday spirit.

You’ll also want to foster closer, more trusted partnerships to help marketers buy with confidence. While both the mobile and CTV programmatic markets have reached scale and attracted considerable investment from marketers, the truth is they’re still maturing. 

Providing detailed reporting with full visibility into transaction data, fees, and costs across the supply chain unlocks valuable insights into performance and helps marketers optimize against their goals and make the most of their working media. 

Complying with and correctly implementing industry standards including ads.txt and app-ads.txt, schain, and sellers.json will also help marketers trust that they can protect their brand and keep their campaigns fraud-free. 

2. Increase efficiency with deals and inventory packages

To optimize effectiveness and efficiency, more marketers are turning to direct deals and open market inventory packages to streamline access to curated inventory—particularly in CTV. 

Creating unique inventory packages or offering deals based on device, format, genre, viewability, and more provides you with more control over your inventory and will help marketers optimize their reach across channels. 

Applying targeting options based on variables like format, device, and placement means you can better merchandise your inventory, showcasing premium placements or holiday-themed content, to align to marketers’ needs. Enabling viewability targeting also allows you to showcase premium inventory and help marketers reach their brand awareness and attention goals during the holiday shopping season.

Using these targeting features can increase efficiency, helping you improve bid rates and ad server win rates to maximize ad revenue.  

3. Refine your approach to addressability 

Regardless of Google’s decision to delay cookie deprecation in Chrome, the industry is well on its way to a privacy-centric future that doesn’t depend on third-party cookies or device identifiers. There’s an immediate opportunity to improve monetization in cookie- and device-restricted environments to help you maximize ad revenue during the prime Q4 period. 

Investing in addressability in browsers that don’t rely on third-party cookies, such as Safari, Firefox, and Edge, can help preserve premium CPM rates and increase monetization as marketers can efficiently reach their desired audiences. 

For instance, Mediavine worked with Index and LiveRamp to connect its authenticated inventory with LiveRamp’s RampID and achieved a ​142%​ CPM lift in browsers without third-party cookies. 

Be sure to engage brands to demonstrate the addressable campaign opportunity in these environments to attract holiday campaign budgets.

Make this holiday season a successful one

The last quarter of the year is a high-impact opportunity to maximize ad revenue. Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to optimize your monetization and boost ROI?  

Connect with the Index team and we’ll help you evaluate performance and arm you with the guidance and action plans you need to prepare for a successful Q4.

Chris Waterman

Chris Waterman

Director, strategic accounts

As director of strategic accounts, Chris Waterman leads publisher account teams for the Americas at Index Exchange. With over 10 years of experience in the programmatic industry, Chris brings deep experience working with global publishers and technology providers across North America, APAC, and EMEA. He's a proud Australian now living in Brooklyn.

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