July 05, 2017
Falling digital ad revenues are the cause of many publishers’ sleepless nights. As the main source of monetization for digital content, many publishers are reliant on the ad revenue to continue to cover the costs of producing content for digital publications.
Many factors conspire against publishers when it comes to digital ad revenue: direct-sale ads which rely on the ad sales team having a good relationship with vendors, DFP or similar which offers the space to big volume buyers without giving the publisher any hints as to its worth and then there’s the matter of ad loading times that can cause the audience to either click away or employ ad blockers.
There’s also very little about the above that publishers can do… or is there? In Let’s Get Technical, header bidding for ads was touted as the 21st century digital ad sales solution. It is the publishers’ best way to ensure that the maximum price is being achieved for the space and enables publishers to wave a fond farewell to Google’s DFP or similar. It still doesn’t solve the loading times, click-away rates and ad-blocking problems though; those cause for more radical solutions.
Women’s lifestyle publisher, Meredith has hit on an idea – a code audit. By systematically going through the code on each of its sites, it has managed to do away with unnecessary shift code from browser to server and identify inefficient vendors and programmes. The results have been astounding. Meredith has seen a speeding up of ad (and page) loading times by 15-20% ,increasing native advertising revenue per visit by a corresponding 20%. Mobile has seen an increase of 74% in revenue per visit which is good news for Meredith as that’s where it derives 60% of all its traffic.
Mobile is an area where publishers are particularly keen to improve the user experience because bounce rates are 20% higher than on desktop, according to RocketFuel’s 2014 study, and it has the potential for huge growth (see Amnet blog Tapping into an Opportunity). A National Readership Survey in the UK for example showed that more than 70% of the audience for six UK newspapers is mobile only. If publishers can get the user experience right for mobile then a generation of mobile-first or mobile-only readers will become brand advocates.
In addition to the code audit, Meredith did away with third party data collectors (having developed its own data collection tools) and third party ad-blocking measurers (having developed its own ad-blocking measurement tools), plus it has employed a header-bidding timeout to encourage vendors to respond quickly or risk losing out. Meredith it seems, isn’t taking any prisoners when it comes to boosting its ad revenue.
The lessons here for other publishers is that if your revenues are reliant on ad sales, then you can be proactive in how the ads, and your content, perform. A code audit may be an inconvenient and laborious task but it may also be well worth it. Boosting ad loading times is a dream come true and the publishers at Meredith are definitely enjoying a better night’s sleep because of it.
If you would like to make your content or advertising budget go further, get in touch with Amnet