Online content publishers are struggling with an increasing number of ad tech solutions and rapidly decreasing ad revenue. Multiple source header bidding, dynamically placed mobile ads and monetization-balanced media buying are just a few of the new challenges. Based on actual experience of over 100 publishers, here are 10 steps big websites plan to take in 2017 to earn higher ad revenue.
When done right, header bidding can add important programmatic ad revenue without slowing down the website excessively. Yet in the lack of competition, any network’s numbers will decline over time. Big websites structure header bidding code to work fast and connect with several premium demand sources. This way, with ongoing management, the competition pushes prices up continuously.
Gone are the days when the bottom line dollar value was the only measurement. To maximize ad revenue, big websites must execute analytics on the placement level, measuring the performance of each ad unit throughout their digital assets. Then, based on the placement level analytics results, test and create new layouts and modify placement sizes and types.
Fast thumb scrolling and other behaviors on mobile devices turn traditional ad units obsolete with limited viewability and low engagement. Instead of static units, big websites implement dynamically placed mobile ads, which identify when a visitor slows down to read and only then open the ad placement just below the focus area. Such dynamic ads deliver higher value to advertisers and yield higher prices to the publisher.
Facebook instant articles seem counterintuitive to website monetization, as the visitor engages with the content without leaving Facebook and never land on the actual website. However, there are two important advantages to implementing instant articles. First, when managed correctly, the fast loading pages can generate high ad revenue. Second, while not officially confirmed by Facebook, it seems that the social network giant favors publishers who use instant articles in terms of organic reach.
Never suffice with Google AdSense. The vast Google marketplace offers preferred terms alongside better ads and higher payouts through the premium DoubleClick AdExchange, aka Google Ad Exchange or AdX. And then, to enjoy the benefits of AdX, big websites connect to the exchange through the dynamic allocation feature of the DoucleClick for Publishers ad server (DFP). This means, AdX only wins an ad impression when it is the highest paying ad impression. Therefore, you know you have maximized your ad revenue each time AdX serves. While this method takes much more detailed oriented work daily, it translates into higher ad revenue.
The cliché about content royalty could never be more relevant than now. With programmatic tools, advertisers can measure the return on their investment like never before. They analyze the data and pay higher prices for engaged users. Eventually, users visit websites for their content (text, images, videos). The higher the quality and interest of the visitor, the higher the attention level will be. Remember, visitor attention is the strongest currency. Premium publishers still invest most of their resources in content.
Big publishers rarely lean back and look at the numbers. If they do, they will be losing money. To maximize ad revenue, publishers need to organize the accumulated advertising data and analyze it daily. Then, when the data is clear, publishers should identify improvement potential and act upon it – whether through technical steps like modifying exchange rules, adjusting the value CPM priorities on DFP or through human interactions with the relevant partners. Yes, although it’s called programmatic, sometimes you actually need to speak with someone.
Most publishers receive weekly pitches from ad networks, paid-for widgets and monetization tools, with no apparent way to determine which one to try. Also, experienced publishers know that if you don’t pick up the phone occasionally, performance declines. It is highly important to choose partners wisely, based on facts. Then, negotiate hard before onboarding and compare to other partnerships to get the best possible terms. Lastly, publishers must actively manage the relationship.
While SEO is not actually dead, the limited space within Google’s first page results means that most sites can’t count solely on organic search traffic. The past year also proved that social network traffic, namely Facebook, is also limited due to the low and decreasing organic reach. Now, publishers realize they must pay for traffic if they wish to keep their base and grow. Smart publishers can utilize advanced measurement and tracking to offset the costs of traffic with monetization. This way, the website can gain high volume of quality visitors at no profit loss.
These challenges of programmatic ad selling require considerable effort daily, specific capabilities – both technological and human – and ongoing attention. When monetization is performed correctly, ad revenue could be increased significantly, sometimes more than double the revenue. This job is not a leftover for someone from the marketing team. To make it work, big publishers hire a team of professionals. If such talent is available and affordable, the monetization team could be operated in-house. In other cases, publishers choose to work with an external team of professionals, such as Adnimation.For more information, visit: www.adnimation.com.
Tomer Treves is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Adnimation, the online monetization firm.