As a publisher, operating based on the advertising business model, your bottom-line goal is to get the highest yield for every ad impression. Yield management is all about that, meaning selling ad inventory to the right customer, at the right time, for the highest possible price. Nevertheless, yield optimization is becoming more and more complex and technically difficult. Perfecting a yield optimization strategy can take time, skill and endless testing. But there are some tips that every digital publisher can implement before diving into the super technical details.
The summary of the 8 best yield optimization tips and techniques:
- Create quality content with outstanding user experience
- Optimize site layout and ad positions
- Employ all ad formats and sizes (even the advanced ones)
- Improve page speed
- Minimize technical errors
- Join the programmatic ecosystem with header bidding
- Meet cookie and TCF v2.0 compliance
- Inventory pricing strategy – the holy grail of yield optimization
In the end we will also answer the question if you should outsource yield optimization or do it on your own. Now let’s deep dive in each one of these.
Yield optimization for publishers starts with the basics
Everything starts with the basics. The very basics of yield optimization for publishers are:
- Creating quality content and great user experience (UX)
- Optimizing site layout and ad positions
- Employing all ad formats and sizes
- Improving page speed
- Minimizing technical errors
Let’s start with the trustworthiness of your site and quality content. Advertisers want to advertise on safe sites, with absence of thin, fake or adult content. Brand safety is extremely important to most advertisers. Thus, you should invest in quality content and great user experience for your readers. With great user experience and interesting content, you will improve your bounce rate and increase pages per view, which means more ad inventory.
Next, your desktop and mobile website layout should have an optimal placements of ad positions, above the fold and throughout every page or subpage. There shouldn’t be too many ads, even less intrusive ones, and you should adjust your website layout to the best advertising practices: with just enough ads. As a digital publisher, it is crucial for you to analyze and determine which areas of inventory are performing well and which are not and change the layout or content strategy accordingly. For the mobile experience and layout, make sure you are using AMP standard, which is becoming more and more important.
In addition to that you should use the best performing ad sizes. For open programmatic inventory you should use the most effective IAB sizes such as 728×90, 300×250, 336×280, and 160×600, but don’t also forget about premium and advanced ad formats that can attract direct advertisers. Important part of the yield optimization is working with programmatic platforms, but don’t forget to offer premium inventory and advanced formats to the advertisers you can sell directly. You can find examples of advanced formats here.
Your page speed load is also extremely important when it comes to yield optimization. A faster page speed provides better user experience, the ads can load faster (especially with header bidding in place) and consequently you can show more ads that meet active view standards. You can check your page speed with Google Page Speed Insights.
Last but not least, it’s important to have zero technical errors. You can examine potential technical errors with Developer Console in your browser like Chrome or Firefox. The most frequent errors or issues on webpages that should be resolved are:
- Async resources loading (non-blocking approach)
- Eliminating render-blocking resources
- Optimizing image sizes
- Employing efficient cache policy (CDN)
Employ header bidding and participate in open programmatic demand
Header bidding is a superior way of selling your inventory, compared to the waterfall method. Header bidding basically enables you to offer your inventory to multiple programmatic platforms at the same time. The higher bidder for each ad request wins, of course. It also saves load time and fill-rates are usually higher when the header bidding approach is used. With header bidding you basically open your ad inventory to auction on the global market and to thousands of advertisers.
You can become part of the programmatic system based on header bidding model in two ways:
- integrating header bidding with a trusted partner into your AdServer
- adding a header bidding code to your site and ad server manually (in most cases)
As you can see, if you want to do any real yield optimization, or do any programmatic selling of your inventory on a larger scale, you need a great dedicated ad server. You can explore iPROM AdServer, with which you can easily connect to hundreds of programmatic platforms. It’s loved by hundreds of publishers. But you can also use any other decent ad server.
Some publishers have been a little bit reluctant selling inventory to open programmatic auction, but in the past few years open programmatic as an important revenue source for publisher is growing steadily. With good AdTech solutions the direct, private programmatic and open programmatic demand can be easily coordinated to maximize advertising revenue.
Meet TCF v2.0 compliance
Programmatic platforms are very sensitive to work with publishers that do not meet IAB’s compliance. The latest important standard is TCF v2.0. If you are not familiar with TCF v2.0, it was developed by the IAB Europe association together with organisations and experts in the field of digital advertising and went into effect on September 30th.
The standard is designed to assist the media, agencies, advertisers and providers of technological solutions in providing compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Regulation in processing personal data, accessing and/or storing information through cookies or in other forms of data collection. You can read more about it here.
Statistics clearly show that those publishers which have TCF v2.0 implemented, are experiencing a lift of advertising revenues. They tend to receive the revenues from other publishers who haven’t implemented it yet. On the other side, demand platforms announced that they could stop buying inventory on websites that are not TCF v2.0 compliant. The same goes for cookie compliance, which you can check with tools like Cookie Pro.
Have a solid inventory pricing strategy
The holy grail of yield management for publishers is having a solid inventory pricing strategy. Preparing a solid strategy starts with through analysis and observing key metrics such as fill rates, RPM, eCPM, ad requests and floor prices. When you do the analyzing, keep a strong focus on quality inventory and historical data as a starting point.
If you are new to programmatic advertising, here is what these metrics are:
- Ad request – When a website requests an ad to be served
- Fill rate – Number of ad requests divided by the number of ad impressions served
- Floor price – A minimum CPM price set by a publisher
- RPM – Revenue per thousand impressions
- eCPM – Effective cost per thousand impressions
One of the simplest forms of yield optimization for publisher is to correctly structure inventory and demand partners. With applying floor prices against specific inventory segments, you can simply ensure a healthy balance between fill rate and eCPM value, effectively enabling overall revenue to be increased. The goal is to allocate impressions to wherever demand is highest – across various advertisers, devices, platforms and channels.
It is important to note that setting your floor price at zero is not recommended. Buy-side technology uses algorithms and other techniques to estimate the value of sell-side inventory. Setting your floor price at zero may seem like a decent way to increase your overall revenue, as it will open your inventory to all buyers, but it’s ineffective in the long run.
The value of your inventory is largely determined by the price, and buyers today are willing to pay more for quality and brand safe inventory. Also, establishing a floor rate and optimizing up or down will allow more accurate predictions in the future.
In order to drive overall revenue, you’ll want to find a healthy balance between the fill rate and eCPM, for all digital ads that are not sold directly. Once you do that, you can further optimize between direct and programmatic traffic. It is important that efforts are made based on data analysis to ensure the right mix of direct sales, private marketplace, and programmatic ad sales are done to ensure both sustenances of long-term relationships with buyers and an increase in advertising revenues.
Inhouse yield optimization versus outsourcing
As you can see, yield optimization for publishers is getting more and more complex. Consequently, the question if you should do it alone or outsource yield management arises. The answer depends on how much time, technical knowledge, and motivation you have.
If you decide to do it alone, here is just a short list of things you must do:
- Technically implement header bidding on your website
- Get approvals and negotiate with programmatic platforms
- Do all the code implementations correctly
- Implement fallbacks and safety regulations with fail-safe mechanisms
- Provide cookie, GDPR & TCF v2.0 compliance
- Do the daily optimization and monitor statistics in several platforms
- Deal with all the additional administration
The alternative is to partner up with yield optimization specialists, such as iPROM. In our case, we do all the heavy lifting for you. We have our own proprietary header bidding technology that can be implemented in minutes. We already have relationships with hundreds of programmatic platforms. Our processes are optimized, so you only send one additional invoice at the end of the month, and everything else is handled by us. You can of course monitor your daily earnings and happening on our platform.
If you’re interested in more information, you can talk to one of our yield optimization consultants: