How Publishers Can Increase Ad Yield
by Myles Engler, on Jun 25, 2021 9:00:00 AM
This is a guest post by Myles Engler of Playwire. Myles is the Vice President of Yield Optimization at Playwire. With more than 12 years of experience in digital media, advertising and publishing operations, he helps Playwire publishers maximize yield and amplify ad revenue through cutting-edge, long-term strategies.
Bringing in more ad revenue is constantly on publishers’ minds. There’s a great reason for that: it’s how you keep your business running.
Although most publishers spend a lot of time thinking about how they can increase ad yield, actually making that happen is something of a mystery to many of them.
Publishers eventually become frustrated and sink into acceptance — this is as good as it’s ever going to get.
But that’s not true.
There are plenty of ways to increase ad revenue. This post will examine some of the most common methods and provide some important tips to preserve your yield over the long term.
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First, let’s make sure we completely understand what “yield” is in advertising, and how it fits within a publisher's overall ad ops strategy.
What is yield in advertising?
Yield refers to the revenue publishers earn from ads on their content, and is used as a measure of the success of a publisher's advertising business.
That’s the simplest way of looking at it. But there is a bit more to it — especially when you begin to discuss yield optimization (i.e., how to increase yield as a publisher).
Increasing yield is, at its core, a simple supply and demand challenge. The supply is your ad inventory, or the places you make available for ad servers to place ads. To increase your ad revenue, you need to increase the demand for your supply.
You can do that in many ways, but you have to be careful. Being too aggressive with your yield optimization efforts can hurt your long-term ad revenue.
Keep Long-Term Yield in Mind
You can increase your ad revenue. That’s not in question. But any effort you make to optimize your ad yield in the short term could have long-term negative effects if you’re not careful.
Here’s why: the simplest way to instantly increase total ad yield is to run more ads on your website, app, over-the-top (OTT) channel or any platform on which you publish. However, increasing ad frequency lowers the quality of each individual ad.
Think of it from an advertiser’s perspective: if you have two chances per session to get your ad in front of a publisher’s user, you might pay a lot to grab one of those two places. But what if there were 400 places per session to show your ad? You wouldn’t pay a premium price to be in that lineup.
Increasing ad frequency increases your supply, making it less finite. That means the value of each impression goes down.
This is not a simple switch you can flip on and off. The value of your impressions can drop like a stone after an increase in frequency, but it goes back up like an out-of-shape person climbing a mountain when you try to reduce frequency back down.
This is why you have to be extremely careful when you play with ad frequency and other short-term methods for increasing ad revenue. One handy way to preserve your long-term yield is to adhere to the standards of the Coalition for Better Ads. These research-based guidelines help publishers provide a better ad experience to users, but their recommendations on frequency and other metrics pack the secondary benefit of preserving impression value.
How to Increase Ad Revenue
With some of the overall strategy points covered, we can begin to consider some more specific ways publishers can boost ad revenue. Below, you will find some of the most common and effective ad yield optimization methods.
Adjust Ad Positioning to Boost Ad Revenue
Start by taking a close look at the position of each of your ads. You will likely see that some of the placements don’t generate a lot of clicks. Are those ads in a place on the page that will generate a lot of impressions? If they’re not getting clicks, the answer is likely no.
This is a simple way to identify underperforming inventory and boost its value. All you have to do is test an ad in a different position. Move the low-performance existing ad units to new places and see how they do.
This is a process, so you don’t have to get it exactly right the first time. Make a habit of testing new ad locations to see which ones get the most impressions and clicks.
Capitalize on High-Demand Inventory
Another quick and easy way to optimize your ad yield is to increase the floor price of your most in-demand inventory. Review your inventory to find which placements a lot of advertisers are trying to buy impressions for. If you increase the floor price of this inventory, you have immediately increased its value.
Header Bidding for Higher Yield
Header bidding increases the demand for your ad inventory — and therefore its value — by allowing you to sell your inventory on multiple Supply Side Platforms (SSPs) and exchanges at the same time. This access to broader demand increases competition for your inventory, and increases the chance that you will get a premium price for a given piece of inventory.
This is probably the best overall way to increase your ad yield. Header bidding also helps ensure that you have a 100% ad fill rate, meaning you never leave money on the table by failing to fill an ad request.
Look at User Behavior
You can also increase your ad yield by getting more traffic. More traffic to your site or app means more impressions and an increase in inventory value.
To get more traffic, look at how user behavior changes when you make adjustments to your ad strategy. For example, if you turn up the ad density and see a drop in traffic — ostensibly from losing users who don’t like seeing all of those ads — you may want to dial it back down. That could be the case even if you saw more short-term revenue when you made the change that harmed your traffic.
Why? Because serving fewer ads could keep your traffic steady and growing, and the site speed benefits of fewer ads on the page could give you more favor with Google. That means you’re likely to see an increase in organic traffic. In the long run, getting more traffic is a sustainable and safe way to increase ad revenue.
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