Protecting Your Ad Revenue and Building Your Ad Stack for 2021: An interview with Joshua Mendelssohn and Jeff Myers of

by Andrew Reed, on Jun 3, 2021 9:00:00 AM

Many savvy publishers these days are moving towards building their own ad stack, instead of partnering with a third-party network.

This of course comes with its own set of new challenges. We sat down with our friends at Factinate to learn about what they have learned since taking on publishing in-house, and what some of their tips and tricks might be.


Building Your Own Ad Stack

Joshua and Jeff have been in the game for years and as their digital properties have matured, they have learned a lot about the components that go into a successful ad stack. Some of the most important components they recommend taking a look at include which partners you are using and how they are bidding on your inventory.


Are you Incorporating Key Partners?

The first, and potentially most important question they recommend asking yourself is: “Are you missing key partners?

Today there are so many different types of inventory you’ll want to incorporate into your ad revenue strategy, it is easy to leave money on the table if you aren’t using the right key partners to bring inventory to your site.

The most important wisdom they imparted on us: “In the past, ad networks may have been the bulk of your ad stack as a publisher, but now you need to ensure that you’re incorporating video and native advertising. In terms of yield, those two types of inventory really take the cake.”

Now that there is technology that gives you more control as a publisher, it is easier than ever to control, and ensure you aren’t missing essential inventory.

Speaking of technology… Let's jump into what you should consider using!


Homegrown Pre Bid vs. Header Bidding Technology

It has become more common than ever for publishers to set up their own ad stack in-house. In the last year or so the industry has seen a move away from header bidding groups that take a percentage of your revenue toward an in-house build model.

Generally, Joshua and Jeff have noticed an increase in the number of consultants or services which can help you build your own stack. You’ll basically pay an expert hourly to set up and then manage changes to your ad stack.

Depending upon your size and revenue, this approach may take less out of your pocket than services that take a percentage of your ad revenue across the board.

As more and more publishers have popped up, using ads to generate revenue, competition has increased substantially over the last few years. This shift has squeezed the margins for many publishers to be razor thin, opening up the “build it yourself” model as a more attractive option for some.

For Jeff and Joshua in particular, they decided it was more effective for them to keep the 15% of revenue they were giving off the top to header bidding groups, and bring it back in-house. Overall they spend less on managing their own prebid stack, thanks to their years of experience, than they previously did on a header bidding solution.

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Understanding Your Metrics

Building your own stack may not be the right fit for you. What’s key as a publisher, whether taking the homegrown pre bid or header bidding route, are your metrics.

Understanding, and carefully monitoring, your metrics will help you make key decisions and stay on top of your ad revenue.


Which Metrics Should You Watch?

In general, Joshua and Jeff recommend you keep track of some of the standards like pages per session, session depth and session type. But the metric that will truly help you make strategic decisions is revenue per session (RPS).

Ultimately RPS comes down to how much you make per session on your website, and it is influenced by all of the standard metrics. For instance, if your session length increases, users will see more ads per session, increasing your RPS.

Knowing your RPS, and then testing changes to your website and watching how it changes RPS will help you make the right strategic decisions as a publisher.

Incorporating the right key partners and inventory types discussed in the previous section will help you see immediate increases in your RPS.


Know Your Desired Experience

Understanding your ad layout and the experience on your website is also incredibly important in making decisions that will increase your ad revenue.

Jeff and Joshua used their own site, as an example illustrating how it affects your decisions: “Focusing on longer articles increases time on site, which means more ad impressions per user.With that experience, you may have the opportunity to run sticky ads that refresh at time-based or user-initiated intervals, increasing impressions per session.”

They went on to note that they’d worked with plenty of fellow publishers in the past who’d just missed this one small opportunity, but it was costing them big-time. “If you have 10 minutes of time on site, it could be the difference between getting one impression and getting 10 impressions,” Joshua and Jeff noted.


Watch Viewability

In addition to considering your experience, and strategically building your ad revenue strategy around it, both Joshua and Jeff also recommend keeping a very close eye on ad viewability. 

Essentially, you have to be careful about loading ads before they are actually visible on screen.

If your content is long enough, you will want to think about lazy loading your ads. 

This ensures you aren’t loading an ad minutes before a user will ever scroll to the point on the page that they will see it. Small mistakes like this can really hurt your viewability and make your site less attractive to advertisers, ultimately driving down the price of your ad slots.

Ultimately, it is better to not call an ad than it is to call an ad that isn't viewable.

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The Bottom Line

There’s no magic pill or set of rules to increase your ad revenue that applies to every publisher. The best ways to strategically increase your ad revenue are to take into account the unique way in which your site works, your desired user experience, and then determine how ads can fit into that ecosystem most effectively.

For more Ad Tech tips and information from industry experts, check out our Ad Ops All-Stars podcast here.


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Topics:Ad Fraud 101AdOps Strategy

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