Login is restricted to DCN Publisher Members. If you are a DCN Member and don't have an account, register here.

Digital Content Next


InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

A publisher Christmas Carol: Lessons for an ideal fourth quarter

October 2, 2023 | By Ginny Hunter, VP of Client Development, Publisher – DoubleVerify @DoubleVerify

The fourth quarter is often a time when ad dollars are flowing, allowing publishers to maximize gains and push toward annual goals. But this year, we’ve found that many industry issues are putting pressure on publishers to do much more than wait for the Q4 revenue to roll in. Through helping our clients finish the year strong, we’ve learned that this is becoming a time of year to learn from the past, optimize the present and position yourself for the future.

This trend is reminiscent of certain literary figure from a holiday classic: A Christmas Carol. There we followed the life and learnings of Ebenezer Scrooge, who vowed to live a better life by keeping the past, present, and future on his mind. Here’s how publishers can learn from that timeless tale to make their fourth quarter a fruitful one.

Past: Learn how to inform packaging and pricing

For Scrooge, one of the hardest parts of being confronted with his past was accepting that nothing could be done about what’s already been. Luckily, historical performance can help publishers use their past to learn how to unlock the true value of their business. And with a whole calendar year of new data to reflect on, this is an ideal time to take a look at how your ad performance has measured up.

With this knowledge, you can price and package your inventory to raise its appeal to your buyers. Use it to make demand-based decisions that highlight your top performers and drive increases to your bottom line. Conversely, your data can help you spot any mistakes you might have made or opportunities you might have missed. It might be too late to make a mark this year, but these insights can be a boon for you if you’re able to learn from them and adjust accordingly.

Present: Grow partnerships based on buyer trends

Old Ebenezer found joy in celebrating the present. Likewise, publishers have plenty of reasons to relish the here and now. Historically speaking, the end of the year has brought strong earning potential to digital publishers. In fact, except for 2020, global digital ad spend has increased YoY since 2010, and a sizable part of that growth has been realized in Q4.

With several countries entering their holiday months, and a corresponding rise in internet traffic worldwide, advertisers are eager to connect with publisher audiences as often and as effectively as they can. This boost in demand can provide a temporary but impactful lift to CPMs and yield.

Take advantage of the rise in demand by building long-term partnerships with advertisers that are eager to reach your audiences this time of year. Deliver efficiently on campaign goals and offer transparent insights that strengthen your relationship and keep your buyers in the loop. Your ability to establish yourself as a reliable partner now could pay dividends later with repeat business.

Future: Simplify operations and become more efficient

The most frightening of Scrooge’s revelations came from his visions of the future. If he didn’t change his ways, then trouble was sure to follow. That’s a sentiment to which many publishers can relate. This year, several large-scale publishers saw a YoY decrease in revenue in Q1. At the start of each year, publishers often feel the pinch as the industry tightens its belt and recovers from a quarter of higher-than-usual spending.

Though the present might seem rosy, the future is murky. That’s why this quarter is becoming a time for publishers to identify and avoid any year-over-year issues. We’re seeing many of our clients looking to optimize their tech stack and make their operations more holistic. Improvements like these will reduce waste and boost efficiency well into the uncertain future.

By keeping the past, present and future in mind as the fourth quarter unfolds, you’ll find it much easier to reap the rewards of the year ahead. More importantly, you’ll enter 2024 ready for any circumstances that might be thrown at you.

Liked this article?

Subscribe to the InContext newsletter to get insights like this delivered to your inbox every week.