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8 Ad Revenue Metrics For Publishers to Track (and Why)

by Matt Peck, on Jul 15, 2021 9:30:00 AM

As a digital ad publisher, you’ve probably been taught to live and die by your CPM and eCPM, or the amount advertisers pay you for every one thousand views their ad receives on your site. 

But if you are looking to maximize your payout, this metric only paints a small picture of what's actually happening when a user comes to your site. 

For example, if you begin to host an ad with a higher CPM, you would expect that this would lead to a higher payout every period. But this may not be the case.

Aggressive advertising tactics have an act of pushing users away and hurting your overall ad impressions, as they negatively impact a user’s browsing experience. 

Along with this, CPM and eCPM may report on how your ads are performing, but they fail to provide you with insights on why, leaving you blind to valuable data points that would otherwise help you improve your overall performance.

If you really want to discover the value of your content, the value of your reader, and the effectiveness of the ads you are hosting, check out this list of useful metrics to add to your arsenal. 

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Helpful Metrics To Focus On 

Total Site Traffic

This is the first and simplest step, and will be necessary to complete many of the metrics listed below.

As a publisher, your basic site KPIs are closely tied to your ad revenue. In general, more traffic means more ad impressions and more ad revenue. But it is also possible to increase site traffic without increasing your session lengths. This means your ad revenue still has opportunity and room to grow.

Also if you end up running a PPC ad campaign to increase your traffic, you may end up having an ad spend that is higher than your ad yield if you aren’t properly engaging your audience.

The best thing you can do for your engagement is to better understand the audience you do have, using the in-depth metrics below.

Revenue Per Customer

The purpose of this metric is to better understand how each customer is contributing to your ad revenue on average. 

As an ad publisher, your goal should not only be to increase overall site traffic, but to increase the average amount of revenue per customer. 

Total monthly ad revenue / # of monthly unique visitors = revenue per visitor

With this equation, you can see that it is possible to increase your number of visitors, without increasing your total monthly revenue. This means your average revenue per visitor will go down, and that even though you are attracting a larger audience you are failing to engage them enough to increase your revenue.

And vice versa, it is possible to increase your ad revenue while maintaining the same number of unique visitors. This means you are creating more engaging content while maintaining the same number of users, and increasing your overall revenue.

If you find you have healthy site traffic but are struggling to keep users on your webpage, it means you are finding the right topics, but struggling to keep your users engaged.

This could be because of the quality of your content, but also could be the quality of your advertisements and user experience.

Make sure you are exploring the front end of your website as well as experimenting with different kinds of content in order to create a place your users want to engage with.

Revenue Per Page 

If you want to gain an even deeper understanding of your audience’s interest and the value of your content, try calculating your revenue per site page. You can easily do this by pulling page statistics from analytics software.

First take the total revenue across your site and multiply it by the percent of total views a given page acquired in the same time frame. 

Page Name

Monthly Page Views

% of Total Monthly Pageviews

Monthly Revenue

Page A

4,000

40%

$600

Page B

1,000

10%

$500

Page C

1,000

10%

$900

Page D

5,000

50%

$1,000

Total

10,000

100%

$3,000


After doing this, consider why some pages are bringing in more revenue than others. Is there a specific topic or form of content your audience seems more drawn to?

Gaining a stronger grasp around your audience’s interest will allow you to improve your engagement and advertising metrics. 

Revenue Per Audience Segment

This metric will look similar to your revenue per page, but instead of breaking down your site traffic into your different pages, you break them down by the user demographics your analytics software provides you.

Audience

 

% of Total Monthly Pageviews

Monthly Revenue

Audience A

 

40%

$600

Audience B

 

10%

$500

Audience C

 

10%

$900

Audience D

 

50%

$1,000

Total

 

100%

$3,000

 

Once you have your numbers, you can see how your different demographics are affecting your revenue.

It may be possible that one group may be bringing more traffic than others, but failing to engage as much as another that is bringing in more revenue.

How can you get these users to engage more with your content and how do you reach more users that are?

Understanding who these users are will lend better insights into what their interests may be, and will allow you to create better content for them to engage with, keeping them on your page and boosting your ad impressions.

Pages Per Visitor

Figure out your average page view per visit (which you can easily pull off your google analytics or similar software) and you should be able to learn how to increase this by recognizing trends in your audience's behavior and interest.

Are users coming to one page per visit, or do they tend to stick around? When a user clicks to another page, what kind of content usually entices them to do that?

If you are getting lots of traffic but high bounce rates, what could be sending them away?

Some things to keep in mind when considering page views and bounce rates are that they don’t report on the way the user actually engages with the content on your site. 

If a page has a high bounce rate, it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn't providing value to users. It could be that your content is simply answering their questions and they don’t feel the need to continue browsing.

It's also easy to look up what a “good” bounce rate is, but this can also be misleading and harmful to your own website. You should take the time to discover your own baselines, and not focus on building your strategy on numbers that have worked for someone else.

Time On Page

Because bounce rates and page views can be skewed by one-stop users, publishers have adopted tracking users' time on page as another effective way to discover how engaging your content is. 

The idea being that you can track user engagement on a single webpage even if they don’t continue browsing on your site.

It is also a superior metric compared to session length (which measures a user's time across your whole site), because it informs you what kind of content on your site is the most or least effective in engaging your audience.

But keep in mind that most analytics do not pause the timer when a user navigates away from the page for another tab, and Google analytics won’t track your last page visit or a visit that is an immediate bounce.

If possible, find the right script and deploy event trackers across your site so you can see how far users are scrolling, even if your analytics software doesn’t pick up the visit.

Or if you are using Google Tag Manager, you can follow these steps to set up a scroll-depth tracker.

User Feedback

Leave a feedback form open on your site, and search through your social media comments for responses from your users.

Many publishers neglect keeping eyes on their front end experience, leaving a number of issues to go unnoticed, like poor page load speeds, malvertising attacks, or broken links and images, all harming your user experience and forcing users to move on. 

Make sure you not only have opportunities for your users to give you feedback, but that you actually listen to that feedback and even take up the role of a frontend user from time to time. 

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Quality vs Quantity

With all the pressure to improve site traffic, session lengths, and bounce rates, it may seem tempting to publish clickbaity content that tries to lure users into clicking through your site as often as you can.

This may pay off in the short term, but once users see through your tactics and are disillusioned by your lackluster content, they will eventually move away from your website.

The same goes for creating ad-filled webpages that increase your potential CPM, but ultimately frustrate users into leaving your brand or publication behind, and artificially inflating your traffic with dozens of ads without good engagement will also go on to hurt your advertiser metrics, pushing lucrative advertisers away from your website.

Treating your users with respect is key to a successful user experience, increasing user engagement, and your ad revenue. In fact many digital publications have successfully cut back on the number of articles they publish so they are able to focus on creating a greater quality of content.

Get to know your audience, and discover what their tastes and interests are so you can better advertise towards them. And understand they come to your site looking for quality content and an unobtrusive user experience, they aren’t there to help you earn more from your advertisers.

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Topics:AdOps StrategyAd Revenue

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