Fluctuations in AdSense revenue can happen for a number of reasons, and today, I'd like to explain one possible cause: flighted campaigns. Flighted campaigns are advertising campaigns that run for short, specific periods of time. If you're curious about these types of campaigns, why advertisers use them, and how they will affect you as a publisher, read on! Advertisers use flighted campaigns to reach both branding and direct response goals.

Advertisers with branding goals usually run cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) flighted campaigns to launch something new, or remind people about their brand during strategic periods of time. In addition, flighted campaigns help advertisers get the most out of their budget. For example, instead of taking a $12,000 yearly budget and spending $1,000 per month, an advertiser might spend $3,000 per month during strategic periods, and not advertise at all (or as much) during the rest of the year. Instead of spreading budget evenly using 'always on' campaigns, these advertisers can make a greater impact by using high budgets in short bursts to get more impressions and frequency than they could otherwise achieve.

Flighted campaigns with direct response (DR) goals usually use CPC bidding and promote an event, like a sale or a concert. Instead of focusing on engagement and building recognition, DR campaigns strive to elicit a specific response from their target audience (e.g. purchase a concert ticket, go to a holiday sale).

Now that I've talked about why advertisers run flighted campaigns, let's return to how this affects your business as a publisher. Even though revenue from flighted campaigns is not continuous, these campaigns can be very valuable. Since flighted campaigns need to garner impressions/responses in a short period of time, advertisers usually bid high in order to guarantee placement of their ads. This can mean that during these short-term campaigns, your eCPM may increase.

Flighted campaigns can be unpredictable, but there are steps you can take to ensure that you reap the benefits when they're running on your sites.
  1. Make sure to allow image ads on your sites, as many flighted campaigns use display.
  2. Opt into placement targeting so advertisers can find and specifically target your sites.
  3. Open above the fold ad blocks since these spots are desirable to advertisers, especially during flighted campaigns.
  4. Add information about your sites to the Ad Planner Publisher Center to attract advertisers and help them understand the value of your sites.
  5. Understand your users. This will help you anticipate the types of advertisers who want to target your sites and when they intend to, which can help you to monetize it more efficiently.