Behind the Numbers With Brad: Planning for Q3 and Q4

Ah, July.

It’s a glorious month of sand-filled swimsuits, mosquito invasions, broken air conditioners and applying sunscreen only to look like cooked lobsters.

It’s also the start of a new quarter, and what better way to escape all the aforementioned fun than to reflect on what we’ve learned from Q2?

We’ve analyzed the data to help you prepare for Q3 and Q4 and get the most out of your ad revenue.

That’s right. It’s time for my noodle arms to pick up that teal calculator and break down ad performance from the last three months at Mediavine.

At the start of 2023, I worked with the Mediavine team to provide a daily eCPM “score” for each day of the calendar year based on data from years past.

The result of this exercise — see our “Best Days of The Year” post — is our attempt to show you what ad performance you can expect on which days. That way, as content creators, you know which trends to expect and how to focus your efforts best.

It’s both an ambitious goal and an inexact science, given the turbulent global economy and the speed at which things change in our dynamic industry.

That said, certain spending trends seem to hold more or less true.

We’ve seen a pandemic, supply chain chaos, inflation and more in the past three years, and through it all, certain times of year are more lucrative than others for digital advertising. Not even the unpredictable nature of the ’20s changed this much.

Without further ado, here’s what we predicted for Q2 of 2023:

Note: The darker the teal, the more valuable the inventory.

To further illustrate the trends as we move through the fiscal quarter, here’s a corresponding linear scale:

Our prediction tells the story of a very typical Q2 — a slow start to the quarter followed by some bumps in eCPM around holidays.

It’s easy to identify increases around Easter (April 9), Mother’s Day (May 14), Memorial Day (May 29), and Father’s Day (June 18). With consumers buying gifts or hosting get-togethers around these holidays, it makes perfect sense.

However, while the expected trends generally held true, there were some variations here and there. See the actual trend line of 2023 (in navy) overlaying our projections below:

What surprises me the most about this requires a second graph. Let’s go back in time to the end of Q1 of this year and pull up March and April data:

If you’re a longtime fan of BTNWB (and I assume most of you are), you’ve often heard me talk about dips in spend that happen with the arrival of a new month and how these dips are even more amplified when a new month is coupled with the arrival of a new quarter.

Such is the case when we move from March to April, and while this year showed this to an extent, historical data suggested a more extended dip in eCPM.

Observation #1

What you see above is the story of an unexpectedly quick recovery in early-to-mid-April, to bring eCPM levels back to what we saw in late March.

An additional surprise came on Easter (April 9), which produced a relatively lackluster boost compared to what we’ve historically observed. The days following Easter actually gave us increases in eCPM that held up fairly well throughout the month.

Observation #2

My second observation confirms a similar pattern to what we noted in our Q1 lookback. This new pattern shows holiday-related spending peaking earlier than what we’ve seen in the past.

Historically, eCPMs peaked a few days before the holiday and remained at those levels until the actual day. Not any longer.

In Q1, we noticed eCPMs peaking up to a week early, then tapering off before the holiday. We can see these trends again in Q2, when spending around Easter began to dip around the beginning of the month, two days before April 9.

Memorial Day weekend produced similar results, with eCPMs rising on May 25 — the Thursday before Memorial Day (Monday, May 29).

Peak eCPMs lasted until May 27 before falling:

Key Takeaways

So, what does this data tell us, and what actions can you take to maximize your ROI for Q3?

After seeing these Q2 results, the biggest takeaway seems to be that advertisers are trying to get ahead of holiday and end-of-month spending more quickly than in years past and pulling back slightly earlier.

As a publisher, you should continue to push your best content and promote that content well ahead of the day or event you’re targeting.

Got a great recipe that’s always been a hit around Labor Day, for example?

This 2023 data suggests an earlier peak in Labor Day ad spending — perhaps around the end of August — than in the past. To maximize your ad revenue, consider aiming for the most traffic then, and not on Labor Day itself (Monday, September 4).

Related Posts