Why is my revenue fluctuating throughout the year?

Seasonality plays a large role in the digital advertising industry and has a direct impact on your eCPM.

Each year is divided by seasons or quarters. When a new quarter begins you will often see a drop in your eCPM and revenue, it is important to consider this when forecasting revenue.   

Digital advertising budgets are planned by advertisers following monthly or quarterly targets. As a result, the industry sees a lower spend at the beginning of a month or quarter, and a higher spend at the end of a month or quarter. 

Depending on the quarter you will also see a different trend in your eCPM and revenue, more on this below.

Quarterly trends

Q1 – January, February, and March 

This tends to have a slower start for revenue as it follows the end of the holiday season. This is the season when advertisers plan budgets and test new approaches to their marketing. During this time they are less likely to spend heavily on advertising, the lack of demand results in a lower eCPM.

Q2 – April, May, and June

Q2 coincides with the end of the financial year for many agencies, at this time they are likely to spend any remaining budget allowance. The increased spend and demand for advertising help drive the eCPM.

Q3 – July, August, and September 

The summer season is notoriously quiet for the advertising industry, during this time there is a lot of planning for Q4 campaigns. As a result, you may see a slight dip in advertising spend which can impact the eCPM.

Q4 – October, November, and December 

Q4 is when publishers often experience some of the highest eCPM because of large campaigns surrounding the holiday season. 

Consumer events

Advertiser budgets are also influenced by large consumer events, for each of these events, publishers will see a corresponding increase in eCPM. Your experience throughout the year might vary, with some consumers events having more impact on your site than others.

These events include, but are not limited to:

  • Back to School
  • Black Friday
  • Christmas
  • Super Bowl
  • Amazon Prime Day
  • Easter and other religious holidays

Global events

The advertising industry is closely affected by major global events. The most recent examples include the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, or the death of Queen Elizabeth II.  

Such events heavily impacted advertisers' spend, budgets, and resources with many campaigns put on pause or postponed during this critical period. They can also inspire brands to reconsider release dates and campaign content, to not detract from the important message.