Data is arguably the most important asset when it comes to programmatic. As the industry is driving away from third-party cookies, you need first-party data to understand your audience and help advertisers target optimally.
Especially, as a publisher, you can unearth dozens of insights from the first-party data that can be used to increase ad revenue and user experience. We want to make it clear that selling first-party data or syncing your DMP with advertisers to run programmatic ad campaigns isn’t the only reason why you should work on a first-party data strategy. In fact, this article describes how you can use first-party data to drive revenue via content optimization.
But wait, one more thing. When we say first-party data here, we mean the simple data that can be easily generated and readily available for you to use. Have we got your interest?
Great, then let’s start.
Metrics to track
Here’s a list of metrics to track:
- Social share,
- Post tags,
- Traffic split on a vertical basis,
- Referral source,
- Ad Viewability and
So, we are going to see how the publisher can and have been using these metrics to better what they do every day. Small changes often add up to produce a substantial lift.
Narrating the Right Stories
Required metrics: post tags, page views, and social shares.
Pageviews and number of social shares are something that you can measure quite easily. Add content tags to it, you’ll have enough metrics to decide what story to pursue next while having the surety that it will drive you both traffic and revenue.
It is necessary to track social shares originating out of the page, not reshares from your social pages. You can track clicks on the social shares or some tools can provide you the number of shares via a dashboard. Pageviews can be referenced from Google Analytics.
What about post tags?
You should be using tags to categorize or to recommend posts at the end of article pages to the users. You can use the same.
Prepare a simple sheet with the following columns and update the numbers to identify the topics that get more traffic and revenue.
Multiply each value (Post tags, page views, etc.) by a number that represents the weight (significance) of it to your business. And, sum it up and put it under score.
If social shares matter more to you, give it a higher credit. For instance, you can multiply all the values by 1 and social shares by 2 or 1.5, depending on how you would like to distribute the credit.
|Post tags||Pageviews||Social Shares||eCPM||Score|
Finding the Best Ad Placements
Required metrics: Scroll-depth and referral source.
While we all understand users from different traffic sources behave differently, only a few publishers are taking it into consideration. For instance, users landing on your pages from a search engine like Google may stay longer and traverse through the site until they clear their questions. On the other hand, users from social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter can bounce off sooner.
One thing to notice is the difference in scroll-depth.
If you see a considerable difference in scroll-depth, then it’s apt to have ad placements based on the scroll-depth. To put it simply, if users from search engines are scrolling down to cover 80 percent of the page, then you have to create and run ads primarily on the top 80 percent of the page. In fact, you can leave the remaining 20.
What if a page is getting traffic from all the sources equally, then exclude the page. Only include the pages that get users from any one of the channels predominantly. Alter the ad placements for them.
If you find 250 pages that are getting 80 percent of the traffic from Google, then alter and apply the same ad placements for them. Your ad viewability and CTR will increase over a period of time (not instantly).
But what if you run sticky ads and do lazy loading? Well, it’s good then. We are talking about the placements that go within the content and on the sidebar/header/footer. Even for lazy loading to happen, you should define ad placements and do it based on the data.
Identifying the Right Traffic Acquisition Sources
Required metrics: CTR and referral source (UTM Campaign parameters).
Once in awhile, you’ll be required to either promote articles on social media or run display ads. This is especially true when you are running a programmatic guaranteed deal. You can’t rely on organic traffic as it tends to fluctuate. Remember, last year’s Facebook algorithm change and Google’s search algorithm update.
If you are in a position to acquire paid traffic, then it’s important to consider two factors.
– Audience targeting.
– Performance of the campaign.
You can set a granular targeting on social media platforms or DSPs/Self-serve platforms you use to ensure you are attracting the relevant traffic.
Regardless of the targeting, not all the traffic sources will perform equally. One will get you more impressions, but fewer clicks. Another will get you more clicks, but less reach/impressions. You have to study how different sources perform and the results.
So, next time, when you set up a direct deal or any campaign with a goal, you know exactly what traffic sources will help you achieve this goal.
Deciding the Right Verticals/Targeting for the Direct Campaigns
Required metrics: CTR for verticals on your site
In your site, you are likely to have verticals (categories) to cater to different audience segments or different interests of your audience. There’s a simple way to predict what campaigns would likely perform better.
The traffic to a particular category varies a lot and it depends on your distribution. But the CTA depends on your audience. Assuming the ads are personalized to the users, CTR is the single-most-important factor determining the effectiveness of a campaign.
So, you should start measuring the CTR for each vertical. There’s a very good chance for you to find some verticals with higher CTR than the others. If you haven’t done anything specific to increase the CTR on those specific categories, then the verticals naturally have better CTR.
And, there’ll also be a difference in impressions because of the difference in traffic/page views. Some verticals tend to perform well in terms of CTR and some in terms of viewability, some in terms of viewability, etc.
So, create a table:
Now, when there’s a campaign with a goal of getting clicks, try to run the campaign on the verticals with higher CTR, rather than targeting it across the site. You can apply the same logic to other goals as well.
We can keep going with more metrics and experiments. But the point of this piece is to show you what can be done with simple data and metrics. Not all of the discussed strategies will work for your site as every site is unique and has its complexities in site structure and ad stack. You can leverage your data, run more experiments, and improve your revenue and UX marginally without investing in first-party DMPs. Marginal improvements often add up to a substantial lift.