19 March 2020

Seasonality in Programmatic Trading

By Dominic Cook- Senior Programmatic Trader, UK, MiQ

When setting up the perfect campaign, a trader has to take into account campaign goals, metrics and targets. But what about those factors that are outside of a trader’s control?

“Seasonality” is a coined term for what advertisers define as product fluctuations throughout the year. At MiQ our traders are equipped to manage and monitor campaigns through any form of seasonality. 

Here are the Top 4 “Seasonality” trends to track against your campaigns

  • Holiday Trends
    1. Christmas
    2. Easter
    3. And even Valentine’s Day. Read more about the importance of V-Day here
  • Climate trends
    1. High temperatures
    2. High rainfall
    3. Pollen count
    4. Extreme weather (short term)
    5. Annual seasons (long term)
  • Industry specific
    1. Auto events 
    2. Sporting events ( NFL, NBA, Premier League, Olympics etc.)
  • Real-time seasonal trends
    1. Global Health Trends: CoronaVirus 
    2. Global/Local Breaking News

Here are the top 5 ways to prepare for seasonality in programmatic campaigns as performed by our MiQ Traders

Have your annual site traffic analysis on hand

Stay up-to-date on site traffic patterns. By consistently running a site analysis, you are able to maintain a clear picture of when audiences visit more, and when they drop off, across the year. Having a good understanding of expected trends will allow you to adjust your delivery to adapt to these changes. By running a consistent site traffic analysis you’ll be able to answer questions such as:

    1. When should I invest more into my retargeting strategies? 
    2. When is it best to push upper-funnel prospecting strategies? 
    3. What local or global events can I sync delivery against to benefit my campaign?
    4. What weather types/ events are affecting my brands’ sales?
    5. Why is campaign performance struggling more than expected during this seasonal period?
    6. Is unexpected seasonality playing a part?
    7. Which seasonal trends impact both traffic and sale volumes?

Know your product and know your audience

Understanding the buying behavior behind your clients' products will enable you to make strategic decisions that ensure you are best placed to handle how seasonality interacts specifically with your campaigns; taking you a level deeper than just the surface impact on the industry/ product type. Remember to consider factors such as use lag-time to conversion-the time it takes from someone to see an impression to convert on the advertiser's product. By running an analysis you will be considering seasonality factors that may have an impact on the campaign. Through an analysis you will understand: 

    1. Time lag from impression to conversion
    2. Time lag from initial site visit to conversion
    3. Number of impressions needed to convert the average prospect

Take for example: You are working with an airline and due to unforeseen weather circumstances, flight bookings are way down. By running u-variable analysis that connects performance data to different variations of the same product you will be able to identify flight dates that have a lower drop off. Adjust targeting towards a long-term planner audience - effectively using first party product data to mitigate seasonality in the short term.

Be prepared to blacklist

Take into consideration all the real time events that can occur at any moment. Some of the best ways to be prepared are:

    1. Maintain strong brand safety across all campaigns, regardless of seasonality.
    2. Maintain a repository of readily-available blacklist templates, for when certain real time events occur.
    3. Structure your campaign setup in a way that is conducive to quickly implementing specific blacklisting.
    4. Take into consideration all the real time events that can occur at any moment.
It's OKAY to reduce spend
Spending your way through falling performance won't always work. In some cases the most beneficial action tip for a campaign is to reduce spend in the short term. Not only does this prevent wasted spend during periods of inefficient return, but it will allow you to allocate resources for more effective forms of advertising.

Take for Example:  Spending has increased significantly to reach a diminishing pool of users on a retargeting campaign that is not performing well, which ultimately leads to a worsening performance. By shifting spend towards prospecting strategies, you can help reach users further up the conversion funnel that will fuel on-site traffic, enabling retargeting spend to rise again. While retargeting is generally one of the most efficient approaches, by reducing spend in the short term, you can reduce inefficiency, and create a long-term opportunity to increase spend later on.

Know the global trends

Seasonality can affect your advertisers and the market for programmatic ads even though they are not directly related. During certain seasonality peaks, there are increases in demand for ad space directly causing costs to rise and efficiency to fall. Understanding those seasonality peaks will enable you to identify where ad delivery isn’t as cost effective and impacting your clients’ campaign. Here’s where we noticed the greatest impact on campaign performance and delivery:

    1. Black Friday: On Black Friday, market CPMs typically increase, ad space demands rise and the manner in which non-retail clients run activity over Black Friday can be seriously impacted despite not being linked.

Take for example: During Black Friday you are working on an awareness campaign for an energy company. However, you notice that you may not be able to deliver ads with the same cost efficiency, causing delivery to rise in price and drop in volume, impacting their campaign. By knowing global trends you will be able to inform the client on the best approach. 

These are just some of the methods traders at MiQ put into play to ensure that their client campaigns are always performing even with the unpredictability of seasonal shifts. Learn more about what a trader does here. 

Check out how our teams are building products to turn seasonality into an opportunity here.