Five Tips to Protect Your Ad Revenue During a Recession

People everywhere are feeling the effects of economic insecurity, whether a recession is imminent or already underway. Unpredictable stock market fluctuations are occurring at unnatural rates.

Mass layoffs in the tech industry, another sign of the economic downturn, indicate a shift in how tech companies will conduct business in 2023. The ad tech industry is experiencing a slowdown, with marketers cutting ad budgets and halting any experimental campaigns.

Five Tips To Protect Your Ad Revenue During A Recession​

According to a MAGNA “Global Ad Forecast” report, ad spending increased by 11% in the first half of 2022, but decreased by 6% in the second half. Analysts at MAGNA predict a slowing trend in 2023.

Now is the time for online media publishers to rethink their strategies. No one is immune to the consequences of economic insecurity, but you can prepare to weather the storm by following these five tips to help protect your ad revenue.

1. Examine communications with advertising partners.

Now is the time to align with your advertising partners, who will be critical in helping your inventory stand out to buyers in the coming months. Conduct a thorough review of where advertising helps and hurts your business and ask if they can recommend custom tweaks based on your niche and audience.

Where are you overspending? Or is it insufficient? Can your partners negotiate direct contracts with advertisers on your behalf? Make sure to ask your partners if they can put you in touch with any potential clients. And, if they can’t, is it time to look for new ad partners?

Preparing for the worst-case scenario ultimately boils down to avoiding that scenario—and being honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t.

2. Prioritise strategies for collecting first-party data.

The demise of third-party cookies is a hot topic in the advertising industry, and it is adding to the workload for publishers. Many have already begun to build first-party audience data collection mechanisms. And if you haven’t already, now is the time to begin.

How do you currently collect user data such as names and email addresses? Is it safe to use and encrypted? How are you categorising this information? Do you know who your target audience is, or is that information held by a third party?

Consider what you can do to regain control of and protect that critical data. Perhaps you haven’t given it much thought, but advertisers value targeted audiences, demographics, and data that show the value of investing in your inventory over competitors.

3. Fine-tune the micro and find the leaks.

If you use technology such as header bidding, you must ensure that your bidders are optimised. Consider how you might update your inventory’s floor price. To drive the highest ad revenue from your advertisers, you’ll need to increase the minimum bidding price (floor price), but keep in mind that many advertisers are pausing or stopping campaigns, which leads to bid price reduction—which means you may need to reduce the minimum bid price to avoid showing blank ad units and having lower advertising yield. Google Ad Manager includes tools with target CPM that can assist you in determining the best floor prices.

Test technologies such as ad refresh, sticky ad units, and video if you haven’t already.

If you haven’t already, try ad refresh, sticky ad units, and video ads to increase the number of impressions per visitor. Every publisher is different, and this works best for those who have users who spend more time on a page.

We’ve discovered that small changes can result in a quick 5% to 10% increase in ad earnings, but each publisher is different and will require specific changes that can be evaluated by looking at the test results. Almost all publishers value every dollar. In the coming months, you must either leverage your investments and the technologies and tools you use—even the smallest ones—or think of ways to cut costs efficiently. Reduce the tiers of existing subscriptions. Most of the time, you can renegotiate contracts or licences with your current vendors.

4. Join the ad tech community.

Despite competing for impressions and clicks, members of the ad tech industry are still in this as a community and more than willing to offer support where needed. Join the Reddit ad ops channel, the programmatic rev tech channel as well as other communities in which you can connect with like-minded advertising-focused publishers.

Be a part of the industry. It’s a great way to be inspired by others, learn from others and grow. Sometimes, all it takes is an outside perspective to reveal something obvious. Be an active participant in industry forums, and voice your concerns—we all have them!—and you’ll find a community working together to look for solutions.

You can even start by joining virtual industry events or events in person. Keep an eye out for relevant topics and industry leaders attending. Research and follow insiders and experts on social media or through newsletters to stay updated. Network!

5. Experiment with different revenue-generating methods.

Although ad monetization is one of the most common ways to earn money from site visitors, there are other ways to monetize traffic (e.g., selling premium content or subscriptions that offer an ad-free experience or an ad-light experience).

Be open to trying interactive content engagement experiences, such as trivia questions or polls tailored to your audience, to keep visitors on your pages longer. Increasing user engagement also means that audiences interact with your content in meaningful ways, which allows publishers to collect valuable user data associated with their site behaviours.

Adding or improving comment sections also helps publishers capture audience feedback and first-party data while giving readers another foothold as a chance to interact with their community and find others doing the same.

Try affiliate marketing and sponsored content deals if you have a strong brand and a niche audience. Remember that the best ad monetization strategy necessitates a hands-on, real-time approach, as well as constant testing and optimization. The key, as with every previous recession, is to survive and thrive, and this, too, shall pass.