There have been a few posts out there on what we can do to better prepare ourselves, as publishers, to recover as quickly as possible from the economic pressure imposed by covid-19. Those articles certainly form the inspiration for this post. However they have been, as far as I am aware, quite generalist. This post aims to lay out five actionable and simple technical tests, steps & tricks that could be used by publishers to potentially turn more revenue from post-covid recovery !
1. Demand more
Maximising your demand is a great place to start. I’m not talking about adding a million adslots here, we all know how that one would turn out. It is all about maximising acceptable sizes that could be delivered to each slot.
I admit that this is an area that I forget to look for any optimisation. Despite it not being at the forefront of my mind it is well worth a look. After a rigourous comb through our stack during the early stages of covid-19 we added a couple of extra sizes to one of our publishers adslots.
The uplift was immediate: +0.12€ RPM (revenue per thousand)
So what are the steps to get this done? Firstly you’re going to want to identify the sizes that might be missing (you have 300×50, but do you also run a 320×50?). Secondly, you’ll want to set up your supply to accept the new sizes, and lastly it will (in most cases) require a small modification to the adserver tags (and prebid solution if you are using one).
2. Charge more, less or the same?
We all know there are no hard and fast rules to yield management. But here is what we do know…
There are fewer advertisers, less budget and less ads to go around. There is more traffic, therefore more publisher inventory. So I think it’s fair to assume that supply outstrips demand in this recovery time.
(I hear those of you who are thinking about the covid keyword blocked news publishers, who have loads of unfilled inventory… I do, I hear you #backdontblock).
As supply outstrips demand it is only normal to price ourselves competitively (a.k.a lower). I’m not saying nuke your floor prices. Yes, this may cost a small amount in revenues, but that loss in ‘value’ ought to be won back in fill rate.
3. Viewability of placements
A subject that has been done to death, but that can’t be left out of this list.
There are a few notable characteristics of ad slots that have a direct impact on its viewability score (and essentially its value), size, location and behaviour.
For size, obviously the bigger the ad slot the greater the potential viewability, so if you’re thinking of implementing the changes outlined in point 1, then there may be some bilateral benefits in respect to viewability.
For location and behaviour then ATF (Above The Fold) Sticky / partically sticky formats are the way to go for the highest viewability score.
4. Test refreshing
Test being the keyword here.
There are a fair few things to consider when Ad Refreshing, but as a general rule ad refreshing is particularly effective when viewability is high & session time is long (i’m talking multiple minutes) so static ATF and certain rich (or semi rich) media formats are good candidates.
In our experience a sticky sidebar format on a “long read” educational / niche content makes a good candidate.
Alternatively when using static formats in ATF / BTF arrangement then only refreshing the ATF can be beneficial. At JPC Network we have been testing this configuration for some time with interesting results. The long and short of it being that we achieved +15% uplift on page RPM, but this result came with a lot of tinkering and fine tuning.
Another general rule: there is not much point testing Ad Refresh if your site has a high bounce rate / short session time, any potential ‘penalty’ paid by declaring Ad Refresh inventory vis-a-vis advertisers won’t be recouped by earnings on the refresh.
Understanding and refreshing in accordance with viewability, session time and user’s page interaction are key.
5. A/B Testing
Do it. Use a cookie. It will be grand.
It can often be forgotten about, mainly due to the number of parameters that can be tested server side, but page level A/B testing is very easy to set up and can be extremely effective.
Let’s say we want to test ad refreshing for example (keeping continuity with the previous point), you will probably want to know how many impressions your refresh logic produces? That’s kind of an important KPI.
Well implementing this sort of ‘impressions from refresh’ tracking is very simple. At its most basic level you will need to know how to set and read cookie; just jump on w3schools.com for all the code. Using a read cookie function you can then pass any cookie contents to your adsever in the adcall via targeting. All that is left is to condition the cookie creation to take place after the initial adcall and you’re all good. Report by keyword in your adsever will then provide you with your stats.
This is of course a very basic scenario; JPC Network advocates the use of publishers proprietary A/B test setups and are more than happy to help you build these out.
There are obviously many more tricks to try, but the five above are perhaps the most immediately useful and actionable.