John: Hi guys. Welcome another Ezoic podcast. I’m here with Piper Lofrano, Hi Piper!
Piper: Hi everyone.
John: So we are going to be going through ‘ready for takeoff’. What does this mean? This I would say is probably one of the most requested kind of things for us to cover on the podcast, people have gone to the site, they’ve investigated layout testing and they go: “Okay I’m going to try Ezoic. I’ve got my site set up and going through all the education on the tools, etc. What happens next? What can I expect in the first week or first couple of weeks?”
So, you’ve got a whole bunch of questions that publishers have sent us.
Piper: Yes, so this is what publishers call going live so it’s when we begin showing the new layouts and these are questions from some of our publishers so I’m going to ask as though I’m the publisher and John will answer. So: When will I see new layouts?
John: Okay, so you’ll start seeing new layouts when you’re ready. Nothing will change until then. When you’re going through the start-up process, it’s all happening effectively in a sandbox, it’s all going on off-line and when you’re ready to go, you say to your Ezoic representative “okay I’m ready to start new layouts.” Then once everything has been set live you can start to see them- and there’s some tools in the Ezoic user interface where you can actually generate and see the new layouts (either on desktop or in mobile). Also, you’ll get ‘cookied’ into a group just like all of your users, and of course don’t forget it’s all the same content, content is not changing and the system is trying different layouts of the same content to see what the users like best so there’s a lower bounce rate that’s trying to find, higher time on the site, higher page views per visit and of course it’s trying different ads and different ad positions to try to get the most money.
Piper: So is everyone seeing a different layout?
John: Not everyone. So, they’ll get ‘cookied’ into groups so let’s say for round figures we go to 100,000 visitors, 10,000 will see one, 10,000 will see another. There will be nine different, let’s just say you’ve got 100,000 visits on desktop so you’ve got nine different layouts with 10,000 each and obviously 10% goes to the original, which is the control. So not everyone is seeing a different one and they’re also not seeing a different one every time they come to the site. They get cookied.
Piper: I see. Okay: I just saw a new layout and I don’t like it.
John: Okay. I’m sorry to hear that Piper! That’s an important point because we go on the data, so by definition we say: if the bounce rate is going down or if the bounce rate is lower on that particular layout than it was on your original, or if the bounce rate is lower than on the other ones we’re trying, that one would be tried more and subjective opinion, (in other words ‘I personally don’t like that layout’) we think that that is not as important as the users’ response and the user response is if the data is telling us that the usability is improving, then that is a better layout. You can exclude them, you can go into the Ezoic dashboard and you can say: “That one! I can’t stand that. I’m not testing it. Take it out!” But I would suggest to everybody: stick with it. You’ll be surprised. Don’t forget, things like Facebook and IOS, when a new layout comes out, everyone is like: “Where’s the messaging area on Facebook? It’s changed,” and of course within a week everyone knows where it is and actually Facebook, the guys behind it, they’ve all been testing their users. Same thing with Amazon: when they are testing their process of getting people through to a shopping cart, they’re testing that all the way through and that’s what the system is doing for you, you’ve got an automated system that is making your content easier to navigate around and balancing increased income against that improved usability. So, a long answer to a short question as usual. Sorry!
Piper: I just noticed that I’m no longer generating any money in my AdSense account.
John: Okay, well that’s normal. The whole point of Ezoic is generating these ad tags and it’s producing them dynamically, so if you’ve got somebody on a mobile phone go to a site, it’s going to generate a mobile sized ad or set of ads and test those. There’s nothing to be alarmed about, the money is appearing in your Ezoic account so that’s something to bear in mind and obviously for big publishers who are making some of them are making $10,000 a day, that is a lot of money and of course that can feel a little bit unsettling. We are partners with Google, we do pay out on the same terms as Google and it’s only the Ezoic test layouts and the money from the test layouts is going into an Ezoic account. If you’re in the AdSense Certified Program, that money will still be showing for your original layout in your Ezoic account. So there’s quite a bit to take in there, but what I would say to you is that you are still in control. You can decide if you only want to test 10% of your traffic at the beginning, then only test 10%, but the idea of the system is you give it more traffic, you give it more users, you will get to that point of statistical confidence quicker, which will give you more money to your bottom line. That’s why people get to a point where they’re making two times what they used to make before, because they’ve given it enough data and time.
Piper: So I guess I’m just not clear on one thing. Why can’t you use my original ad tags for the new layouts?
John: Your original ad tags might be coming from a whole bunch of different ad networks. There is no way that our system can automatically generate and record the revenue from every single one of those ad networks. The second reason is that we use Google’s Ad Exchange and we use real time bidding. We have some great tools thatdo some clever stuff with things like bidding floors for real time bidding. The quality of the ads is on the whole going to be better than your original ads anyway, number one, but how the system is adding value is not better ads, It’s better ad positions in conjunction with the user experience so if we can get the page views per visit up, your overall income is going to go up as well as the users enjoying it more. I mean, I suppose the question behind that is: “I would like to keep my existing ad relationships going and why do I have to change my ad relationships when I want to test layouts.” I suppose that’s the sub-question. There’s no reason for you to drop your existing ad relationships. All you have to do is you integrate with Ezoic and you can just decide “I’m going to start with 25% of my traffic on mobile only,” or, “I’m going to do 50% and let’s see who wins,” and that’s the whole point of layout testing. We’re not doing that deliberately to be awkward. It’s just an incredibly difficult thing to be able to do, to be able to, let’s say for example, take a page that might have four different ads on it, though each ad in a different spot, all ads dilute each other. All of these calculations on yield have to happen super quickly and we can’t wait having discrepancy changes in ad networks have different revenue shared, like there are so many permutations that it’s much better for us to go through a solid reliable feed of ads like Google Ad Exchange for real time.
Piper: Alright. So: I’ve been live for a day now and I’ve just checked my Ezoic dashboard and my revenue is less than half of what it normally is.
John: Okay, so it depends on when you went live yesterday. If you only went live six hours before the end of the day, not all of the money may be in there, number one. Number two: look in your AdSense account. That’s probably where the rest of the money is, especially early on in the first couple of days. They’ll take time for things to be dropping into your Ezoic account. Do not panic is what I would say. Just give it time because different layouts, I mean you’ve been working yourself for years. The system has only had a few hours, I mean literally only a few hours. If you don’t give it enough time, you’re going to stop the testing before you’ve got any idea of whether it was going to be better for your or not. So just stick in there and you’ll be fine. It will increase.
Piper: Okay. And are the stats I’m seeing in the dashboard for today accurate?
John: Depends on when you’re looking during the day. Head office is on California time, so Pacific Time, so it depends on where you are in the world and there is a delay sometimes from the ad partners. Some of the APIs get a little bit behind, so I wouldn’t look at today’s numbers. I would look at yesterdays or even the day before to make sure that everything comes through, but overall by the time it gets to lunch time in Pacific Time, all of the income will have landed in there and be correct. Same with the analytics, particularly for bigger sites. Sometimes we hit our bandwidth limits on our data feeds.
Piper: Alright. So I’ve seen a couple of layouts and there seem to be a lot of ads above the fold.
John: Oh, okay. That is a surprise, but I guess it depends on how many ads you had on your site before, but it might be a bit of a shock if you go “oh wow, why are there so many ads on that page?” So the system will be looking at things like that particular page will have a natural bounce rate from your organic search. Let’s say that somebody is typing something into Google and they come to that page, if that’s a naturally high bounce rate page, the system will begin to show more ads on it because you’re either losing the user to a back button press or they’re going to see an ad and click on the ad. It’s maybe better for you to show more ads on pages that have a higher bounce rate. The other, I think there’s a sub-question there as well, which is: “Are there too many ads above the fold and am I going to be penalized by Google?” The Google algorithm says if you put too many ads above the fold and you push the content down too far then we’re going to penalize you. The thing to remember with Ezoic is number one, it’s not doing that very, very often. Number two, if it does do that, it will be doing that maybe on one or two pages on your whole site. Like I said, to do the bounce rate on the site. So it will be doing it in a scientific way and it’s not doing it on every page. Google are quite clear. They talk about it’s a whole site basis that they judge the ad density above the fold, so you don’t need to worry. We have thought of that and it’s really all about balancing user experience and income. We want to get the most income for you. You don’t need to worry about it damaging your site.
Piper: Alright. I also just noticed that there’s five ads per page. Again, isn’t this against Google’s terms of service?
John: If you are an individual AdSense publisher, then you are allowed three ads. Three display ads, we’re talking about. Because we’re partnered with Google, we’re able to show up to five. It’s not an infringement on the terms of service.
Piper: Alright. Will I still be able to access my own Analytics account?
John: Yes you will. They’re getting easier!
Piper: I bet. Good to know. Here’s another one: I’m a few days in and I’m not making more than I was on my own.
John: Okay. It may be that… I don’t know this particular publisher… They may have too few visits for the system to be able to have already reached a decision on whether the tests are beating your original so, especially early on, I would say in the first two weeks there’s much more volatility and the reason for that is, if you think about it, the system is trying as I said, I gave that example earlier, let’s say nine different desktop layouts. In order for us to know whether one of those is absolutely beating or not beating your original, it must reach a point where it knows for sure, so it’s not just one user staying on the site for ten minutes and the aggregate time on site is high. We want to make sure it’s definitely beating it in all circumstances. So, for that reason, it could be that none of your experiments- go to the experiments area, look at the different confidence levels. If they’re still in sort of in the sort of red or amber and they haven’t gone to green yet, it’ll show you that’s the reason. The system may be can get unlucky as well. It can say “okay we’ve tried these ones” and maybe for your users those ones, let’s say some of those don’t work so they’ll drop down and get rid of and some new ones will come in. There is that time that it takes. It’s not magic, it is testing and it’s not a bunch of guys in a room trying designs. It is actually, it’s a system. It’s a platform, it’s testing in order to take that data and make the best use of it. So give it more time is what I would say.
Piper: A sub-question to that one is “how long should I expect to wait to see results”?
John: That is vastly dependent on how big your site is. Sites that are… let’s say they’re getting more than 10 million visits a month, you know, several hundred thousand a day and maybe several million a day, you’re going to run through a bunch of tests really quickly and it’s great to see because you are testing on average about 100 desktop layouts, about 30 tablet and probably about the same on mobile and those are the main categories of tests, and then you’ve got subcategories so there’s actually thousands of different layouts the system is going to try. When you have a lot of traffic, you’re going to get statistical confidence really quickly, you’re going to get bottom line improvements on revenue super quick so it’s going to be like a few days I would say. The minimum for a big site that you could expect is about five days. It takes about that time for the bid floors to be reached in the Ad Exchange, plus we obviously have to find ‘winners’. If it’s a more modest site- or let’s say it’s an average site, sort of 200,000-400,000 visits a month… That’ll take you about three to four weeks and then if it’s 100,000 visits a month or fewer, then I’d say four to six weeks.
Piper: Alright. So what happens once we find a winning layout?
John: Two things happen. The system will promote the current winner and that will get about 70% of the traffic for each of the screen sizes, so if it’s found a winner on tablet, it will give 70% of the traffic to that winner. Then it will take the rest and it will split that between the original, which we want to keep as the control, and then the rest goes to more tests so it’s not going to be the winner forever and sometimes that winner can last only a few days and then a new winner is found. And we look at Ezoic methodology, the idea behind the Ezoic methodology is technology is changing. New handsets come out all of the time. We’ve got fragmentation of operating systems and browsers. There are so many permutations that we’ve got to cover and the system will keep you up to date and constant and never ending improvement is better than just saying “I’m going to declare a winner and then I’m not doing any work on my site for two years”. That’s what used to happen. “I’m doing a brand refresh” and then they’ll kind of suffer when it begins to look a bit old and eventually they go “okay” and actually most people who have followed that kind of old fashioned way, they’re doing that based on their own personal preference. They’re saying “this site looks old now. I should do something about it” and they’re not looking at user experience and they’re not looking at the efficiency of where the ads are. There’s a whole range of improvements that can be made so what could be a winner in April, 2015 is probably unlikely to be a winner in November, 2015. So we say use the system to deliver all of these results, but keep it going and better ourselves.
Piper: Alright. A couple more questions- I just noticed that a page is loading really slowly?
John: We’re talking early on aren’t we? So that can happen, particularly in the first few days. Don’t forget most publishers have one layout that they’ve been testing effectively on their own and they have that cached. They have that cached locally on their machine, local area network or wherever it is. That’s all been cached so when you’re randomly browsing around your site (as we publishers do) and going on pages just to see what they look like. You might be going to pages that are not frequently visited by your users, that have never been seen before in that particular layout, so before our system has the chance to cache it typically the first day, then it can appear slow for you, but what you’ve got to do is go to Google Analytics, look at the page loads feed. That’s one thing. The other thing to look at is the usability. You pull out your phone and you go to a normal page or a popular page. Our system is doing things like caching it, it’s lazy loading it. It’s trying to make sure the user experience is good. Page load speed scores and usability are not the same thing. We can talk about that again later. Anyway, don’t worry. I know there’s a lot of “don’t worry. It’s going to be fine”, but literally we’ve done this so many times now. The methodology is sound. I hope this is giving people enough reassurance.
Piper: Okay. Final question before we wrap up: I just added a new post and it’s not showing up on Ezoic’s layouts.
John: It’s because we’re caching. We actually are trying to get the site going as fast as it can all around the world so we’ve got all these data centers around the world. The only change in your routine when you use Ezoic, the only change you have to do is make sure you tell the system to go look for a page that you’ve amended. New posts will be found and discovered immediately. So I think that person is saying they’ve amended a page rather than posted a new page. All new pages are picked up immediately by the system. If you amend a page, you’ve got to do the little ‘Control Alt E’, which clears the cache in Ezoic and finds new layouts.
Piper: So if I’m updating or amending a page every day, do I have to do the Control Alt E every day?
John: No you can sent a rule. You can set a rule that it will go and that’s in caching rules and if you’re having problems with this, we have got Knowledge Base articles about it- and you should always be contacting your Ezoic rep. anyway if you’re having problems with this. You just set a caching rule and it will go look for new content. Let’s say you put something on your home page every day, just get it to do that every 12 hours and it’ll do that, but because you want to keep things fast for your users, there’s no point setting it for like one hour when you’re only posting once a day.
Piper: Alright. That’s all the questions from our publishers. Thanks for those you guys.
John: Yes, thank you guys. Keep them coming and thanks again for your time. Bye.