Publishers scramble to make ends meet in Q4

Publishers scramble to make ends meet in Q4

Despite being a traditionally strong revenue period, Q4 2023 has been a disappointment for publishers. Revenue performance has fallen short of expectations, forcing publishers to scramble to make ends meet.

One anonymous media executive succinctly described the situation as "it sucks out there."

To compensate for the shortfall, publishers are focusing on in-quarter selling, turning the final months of the year into a race to secure as many ad deals as possible. Some of the tactics employed to wrap up Q4 ad sales include quick-turn programmatic spots and sponsorships related to gift guides.

The revenue landscape varies across different ad categories, with sectors like auto, pharma, food, beauty, and retail performing well in Q4, while tech, travel, and fashion are lagging. Publishers targeting 18-to-34-year-olds are particularly well-positioned, as this demographic is more resilient to economic fluctuations. Fast food, insurance, fashion, beverages, snacks, and streaming and entertainment categories are also among the growth areas for certain publishers.

As the programmatic market evolves, publishers are focusing on offering high-touch, bespoke advertising solutions such as events and branded content. These offerings are expected to become more prominent in 2024.

Despite the challenges, there is some optimism for 2024. Ad industry analysts are projecting modest growth for the year, and publishers are already putting strategies in place to capitalize on this.

One positive trend is that clients are showing increased responsiveness to proactive selling strategies. This suggests that publishers are moving in the right direction, and that there is potential for growth in the coming year.

Overall, Q4 2023 has been a challenging quarter for publishers, but there are signs of hope for the future. By focusing on in-quarter selling, high-touch advertising solutions, and proactive sales strategies, publishers can position themselves for success in 2024.

Additional insights

  • Publishers are finding creative ways to generate revenue in Q4, such as offering gift guides and sponsored content.
  • The ad industry is showing some progress in terms of inclusivity, with publishers working to address issues like keyword blocklists.
  • Publishers are optimistic about 2024, with modest growth projections.
  • Publishers are focusing on proactive sales strategies and high-touch advertising solutions to capitalize on growth opportunities in 2024.

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