As we con­tinue to ana­lyze and pub­lish dis­play trends for CPMs (cost per thou­sand impres­sions) from a sea­sonal per­spec­tive, it is inter­est­ing to reflect on what we have learned from both effec­tive adver­tis­ing and user behavior.

Last week, we pub­lished the Month over Month (MoM) CPM trends by exchange and there were some mixed sig­nals between the dif­fer­ent exchanges. In terms of the types of pub­lish­ers and their respec­tive MoM trends, the CPMs are more in line with the Google AdX over­all trends with CPMs being down MoM.

We note in many of our posts regard­ing CPMs, that end of quar­ter prices are often inflated as par­tic­u­larly brand adver­tis­ers often rush to spend unused bud­get, arti­fi­cially inflat­ing the bid­d­a­ble inven­tory CPM lev­els.  Often adver­tis­ers may end up with a declin­ing inven­tory costs com­par­ing a last month of a quar­ter with a first month (i.e. Dec 2010 v Jan 2011)

Fig­ure 1 shows the dif­fer­ent pub­lisher types com­pared against each other and Fig­ure 2 shows actual numer­i­cal per­for­mance per Pub­lisher type and how they trended MoM

Fig­ure 1: Effi­cient Fron­tier US Client Pub­lisher Type CPMs — Jan­u­ary 2011

Fig­ure 2: Effi­cient Fron­tier US Client Pub­lisher Type Sum­mary – Decem­ber 2010  Blog9table1

Jan­u­ary 2011 saw a decrease in all Pub­lisher ver­ti­cals, except com­mer­cial sites (a web pres­ence for a spe­cific busi­ness which also has ad space). Not only did CPMs decline MoM across the board but so did the CTR (click through rates) and thus the propen­sity of browsers to inter­act with the ad creatives.

Inter­est­ingly, both the num­ber of sites and impres­sion share of shop­ping sites increased pro­por­tion­ately slightly in Jan­u­ary, pos­si­bly indi­ca­tors con­sumers are still chas­ing bar­gains long after the offi­cial hol­i­day season.

One of the most obvi­ous trends occurred with the video pub­lish­ers, whose CPMs declined 34% in Jan­u­ary with a sim­i­lar decline in their rel­a­tive Impres­sion share. Com­bined with the over­all decline in CTRs, can we con­clude that browsers have less dis­pos­able time in Jan­u­ary than in the more hol­i­day friendly month of December?

Jan­u­ary is tra­di­tion­ally a “back to work/school” month, and many indus­tries — finance, legal, real estate — start to get busier again after the hol­i­day period. So while a Decem­ber 23rd day in the office might afford the lux­ury of an employee check­ing per­sonal email and for­ward­ing You Tube videos to friends, a Jan­u­ary 12 work day does not.

From an advertiser’s per­spec­tive, all of these trends are impor­tant to note as it relates to design­ing strate­gies to gar­ner more vol­ume and broad­cast­ing their mes­sage at dif­fer­ent times of the year. For exam­ple if you are tar­get­ing a user demo­graphic that is more inclined to video sites, take advan­tage of the lower rates on offer.

If you are a direct response adver­tiser con­cerned about falling CTRs of your cre­ative mes­sages in Jan­u­ary, look at it in the con­text of the over­all sea­son. The maybe test your cur­rent mes­sages on gam­ing or finance sites specif­i­cally where the CTRs are more con­stant to gauge whether a mass cre­ative over­haul is really necessary.

We will con­tinue to look at these trends to give adver­tis­ers insights in how to best ana­lyze and opti­mize their dis­play mar­ket­ing dollars.

Chris Jacob