Most of the publishers start monetizing their sites with Adsense. As the website grows, publishers get a lot of other opportunities for increasing the ad revenues. But since the publishers are more focussed on content creation, such opportunities go unnoticed. Well, no more. In this blog, we’ll help you, an AdSense publisher, to make the right decisions at the right stages. Next time, you have a question – “What’s after AdSense?”, you’ll know what to do.
Note: The stages will be based on the number of page views (traffic) so that there is no confusion about when to take the next step.
Before diving in, let’s understand the concept of demand and supply. When the demand for your ad inventory is higher, its value will increase (CPM). The demand increases when more and more buyers are willing to show their ads on your site (for your users). So, when will you get more buyers to bid for your inventory?
Case 1 – When your ad inventory is present in a large marketplace with thousands of potential buyers. For instance, if your ad inventory is made available on Ad Exchanges* or even ad networks like AdSense, you’ll have a competitive auction to sell your inventory.
*Ad Networks have individual advertisers as buyers whereas Ad Exchanges have individual Ad Networks as well as real-time bidders using demand side platforms (DSPs) as the buyers. The demand from Ad Exchanges is massive when compared with the demand from Ad Networks. The largest ad exchange is Google Ad Exchange.
Case 2 – When the ads on your inventory are giving a better return on investment when compared to other websites. This happens when the right ad is being served to the right user at the right time. For example, an ad of a paintbrush will have a higher chance of conversion in front of a user who is reading about painting instead of a user who is going through sports news. Of course, there are many more factors impacting the conversion rates but we will stick to the factors relevant to our discussion.
Remember both the cases and it’ll help at a later point. For now, let’s get to the answer.
Explore AdSense Alternatives
(o – 200k PVs)
When your website is in infancy, it is best to monetize it with AdSense. AdSense is a huge ad network that has the capability of monetizing almost all kinds of sites. The demand for ad inventory comes from numerous small and medium businesses and that’s a good starting point. Also, Google sends the demand from numerous Google Certified Ad Networks which helps in keeping your CPM higher.
Once your website starts generating more than 200K page views, start exploring the alternatives to AdSense. By trying the alternatives, you will be validating whether Case 2 exists for your site. Depending on the niche of your website or the geography of your audience, some smaller ad networks can outperform AdSense on your site. But you have to try them to validate it.
When your ad network has advertisers who are looking for an audience in the same niche as yours, then there are higher conversion rates. All such advertisers will strongly compete to show ads on your site because it has the right target audience. There are many niche ad networks, for example, there is Gay Ad Network specialized for LGBTQ audience, Decibel for audiophile audience, Gourmet Ads for food content consumers, etc. You have to find an ad network that specializes in your niche and is ready to monetize your traffic.
Similarly, the ad networks that work closely with the advertisers of a specific geographic area may be better at monetizing the traffic from that area.You can research for ad networks based in your geographical area like your country or continent and check if they can perform better. Then there are many other Adsense alternatives that may work well for your website. Ad networks like Media.net, Criteo, etc work similarly to AdSense. Keep working with the partner that provides the best earnings to you.
Here’s a list of generic ad networks:
Work with Multiple Partners
(300k – 1Million PVs)
After crossing 300K, you may start seeing that sticking to one ad partner is limiting your revenue potential. At this stage, you should consider working with multiple ad partners simultaneously. To make it possible, you have to start using an ad server. For instance, Google Ad Manager (GAM) is an ad server provided by Google to publishers (it comes with a free version ideal for small and mid-sized publishers). If you are looking for different ad servers, then you can check other ad servers too.
With Google Ad Manager, you can integrate multiple demand partners in a waterfall-like setup fashion to bid for your inventory. Just like a waterfall, the demand partners are prioritized in an order based on their historical performance such as CPMs, buying volume, etc. When the demand partner at the top of the order fails to fill your inventory, then the second in line gets the chance to fill it. In this way, you increase the possibility of your inventory to get filled.
Apart from the ad networks and ad exchanges, more than 300K pageviews is a good position to acquire direct deals with the advertisers. Direct deals generally give higher returns than ad networks . These direct deals can also be executed with the help of Google Ad Manager.
Apart from the increased demand, Google Ad Manager will give you additional control over your inventory like better filtering, targeting, and reporting that will help you increase your revenue further.
Here are some resources for you to get started with Google Ad Manager:
- Google Ad Manager – A Guide For Beginners
- How to Set Up Google Ad Manager – A Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Test Your Google Ad Manager Setup?
Work with Multiple Ad Exchanges
(1 Million+ PVs)
Ad networks have lesser demand for wide-reaching websites. For instance, most of the demand in Adsense comes from small businesses advertising with the help of Google Ads. These businesses with modest budgets spend less than big brands. Large brands, on the other hand, have considerably higher budgets. Unlike the small businesses that do bulk purchasing of the inventory on a contextual basis, the media buyers from large brands buy inventory on an impression-by-impression basis through real-time bidding via Ad exchanges. The demand from these exchanges reaches to publishers via Supply Side Platforms.
The waterfall setup that we discussed earlier is only good until you are working with a few demand partners, but once you are capable of pulling demand from many sources at the same time, then you need header bidding.
Header bidding will make your inventory available to multiple ad exchanges. These ad exchanges will bid simultaneously and in real-time. When all the exchanges bid at the same time, the competition increases by leaps and bounds. Ultimately, you receive the highest possible revenue. If you’ve noticed in the above waterfall auction image, $6 bid won the auction because it got the chance to bid before the advertiser who’s willing to bid $9.
In header bidding, $9 bid will always win the auction.
Clarification: But how can $6 bid win? In waterfall setup, when the server (GAM) receives the $6 bid, it will see if the publisher (you) are willing to accept it. You’ll because you don’t know whether you’ll get a higher bid from the next network/exchange in line. In case of header bidding, as everyone is allowed to bid at the same time, you can easily pick the highest bidder.
Here are some resources if you wish to go into details:
- Header Bidding – It’s time to go beyond the ‘waterfall’
- Header Bidding vs Open Bidding – What Should You Know!
- Prebid Wrapper – A Complete Guide for Publishers
Can you implement header bidding by yourself?
Header Bidding can be implemented with the open-source technology called Prebid, so technically it can be done in-house. But the process can be economically impractical and technically difficult for publishers. For example, you have to hire the man force that is technologically savvy to integrate prebid. After the integration, you have to integrate SSPs (demand partners) to bid on your inventory. Most reputed SSPs wouldn’t work with smaller publishers and you may end up wasting your time.
An outsourced monetization partner, on the other hand, has everything set up for you – demand partners, the required technology, and an expert AdOps team. All you have to do is get a simple code, add it to your website and the ads will start appearing.
Here are some resources to help you in the path of finding header bidding partners:
- 9 Things To Look For In A Programmatic Monetization Partner
- Outsourcing Ad Ops – Assessing the Need and Finding the Best Partner
Throughout the journey, your focus should be on increasing the demand or the ROI for the advertisers. As the supply of your inventory increases with increasing traffic, you should keep increasing the demand accordingly. On the other hand, increasing ROI with better CTR, viewability, targeting, etc should continue parallely. If you have passed the 1 million PVs, then it is the right time to start looking for header bidding partners. If you need any help, contact us now. We’ll help you with the best header bidding setup for optimum revenue.