The other day, I watched a classic movie with an ambiguous ending. Curious about the explanation, I looked up some analysis and commentary on it.
The first page I clicked on was full of ads. There was every kind of ad imaginable — floating videos, static side rails, pop ups, you name it. I couldn’t even see the content it was so bad. After a few seconds, I clicked away and found a much better, cleaner site.
This is the exact situation many publishers fear will happen if they increase the number of placeholders on their site: that their site will become full of low-quality ads that hurts user experience, ultimately driving their audience away to competitors.
But here’s the thing — Ezoic placeholders are not ads; they’re more testing locations. Just because you have more placeholders doesn’t mean each one will always have an advertisement slotted in for every person who visits your site. In fact, having more placeholders can significantly decrease the number of ads on your site — while earning you more revenue!
If that sounds impossible, it’s not. Read on to learn how increasing the number of placeholders on your site can help you earn significantly more revenue.
Some Interesting Facts About Ezoic Placeholders Every Publisher Should Know
Ezoic recently conducted a study where we measured the average number of placeholders and the average monthly revenue from every Ezoic publisher in the last 30 days.
The results were fascinating, and very telling; we found that all publishers with under a 50 monetization score had:
- An average of 25 placeholders
- An average monthly revenue of $1.81
Conversely, all Ezoic publishers with over a 80 monetization score had:
- An average of 49 placeholders
- An average monthly rev of $470
This is a 14500% increase in average revenue! But that doesn’t tell the whole story — that’s a pretty big number that can mean a lot of things. Once we dug a little deeper, we found:
Sites that had max 20 placeholders:
- Average $320/mo
Sites that had between 20–40 placeholders:
- Average $530
That’s a 66% increase in monthly revenue! We ran several more tests, and the results were always the same: sites that had larger numbers of placeholders tended to earn significantly more revenue than sites with lower placeholder counts.
This isn’t to simply say that “more placeholders = more revenue” and leave it at that. Of course, we all know that site revenue is impacted in dozens of key metrics — SEO, content, site speed, authority, search traffic, etc. Still, we’re beginning to see clear correlations between sites with more placeholders having much better results; it usually indicates a higher quality site with a better user experience and higher site score.
Still, the reasoning behind this trend is worth studying. This test confirmed that most high-quality publishers with high-quality sites (those with an 80 or above monetization score) have taken time to study their audience to provide the best possible content; the strategy is the same for increasing placeholders. Increased placeholders means more data the Ezoic AI can use to make better decisions about your site, which helps the AI deliver a better balance of user experience and site revenue faster. You learn how to create better content, while the AI learns how to create a better site experience.
Interestingly, Ezoic site owners with lower-quality sites (those with a 50 or below monetization score) don’t have more placeholders — they have less! One might think that low quality sites have more placeholders, but the opposite is true. This happens for many reasons, not least of which we already mentioned: that more placeholders means more data for the Ezoic AI, which results in better user experience and site revenue.
Think of it this way: increasing the number of placeholders on your site to earn more revenue can be loosely compared to eating more vegetables to build a healthier body. Both are only one simple part of a larger strategy, but both are advisable and recommended.
This entire thought process is based on the idea of becoming better; experimenting, learning, and growing as a content creator and site owner. The more publishers learn, the more they seem to learn that increased placeholders correlates with higher revenue.
The Ezoic AI Creates More Balance, Not More Advertisements
It’s important to remember that the Ezoic AI only fills placeholders with advertisements if it believes it will help both user experience and site revenue; it won’t fill every placeholder for every person, every time. The Ezoic AI focuses on building balance, not just filling a site with as many ads as possible.
Let’s compare an imaginary site page on your site, one with only a handful of placeholders and one with the maximum number of placeholders possible.
If you limit the number of placeholders on the page, there may be (and probably are) instances where users come to your site where the Ezoic AI knows would benefit from seeing more ads, which increases both user experience and site revenue. Some users simply like seeing more ads than others; some forms of content are longer and can naturally fit in an above-average number of ads. Unfortunately, limiting the number of placeholders on that site prevents the site from displaying more ads, which hurts site revenue.
Conversely, if the AI has permission to use the maximum number of placeholders, it will have more options and flexibility to provide different users with different experiences. For instance, it might recognize a user that responds well to lots of ads, or that a longer piece of content could realistically fit in more ads without hurting user experience. When I was a full-time blogger, I’d usually write articles about 2000 words long; sometimes, I’d be struck by inspiration and post one that was 5000 words long. More content means more room for more ads — all without hurting user experience.
This is what the Ezoic AI does: creates balance. Think of it this way: if the Ezoic AI shoved in as many ads as possible in every scenario, what do you think would happen? User experience would invariably decrease, losing both Ezoic publishers and Ezoic itself significant ad revenue. This isn’t optimal or preferred for anyone — the users, the publishers, or Ezoic itself. Instead, the Ezoic AI calculates an enormous amount of data (data site owners like you give it through increasing your number of site placeholders) and determines the best balance of ads to user experience.
How Increasing the Number of Placeholders Can Earn You More Revenue Through Less Ads
For a more in-depth explanation of this topic, read here. But it bears repeating: many Ezoic sites do earn more revenue by displaying less ads more time (made possible by maximizing the number of placeholders on your site).
How is this possible? The intricacies of the Ezoic AI are hard to explain, but simply put, here’s what happens. The AI will always determine the most optimal balance between ads and user experience (you can also modify this prioritization here, to favor revenue or user experience). It does this using a combination of all the data it has for your site, your users, and your site’s placeholders. Again, giving the AI as much data as possible increases the balance between revenue and user experience.
As for the trend of less ads resulting in more revenue, the logic becomes a bit more nuanced. Say you have a blank page on your website, and you put in a single call to action — an email sign up form, a widget, an ad, etc. That means your user’s attention is 50/50, half on the call to action and half on the blank page. Advertisers will pay a lot for that level of user attention.
Now say you have 1,000 calls to action on that page. Each new “thing” begins to cannibalize each other “thing,” resulting in far lower user attention. Advertisers can see this data, and will begin paying far less (or not at all) for these ads, seeing how low the value has become for their ad.
Over time, the Ezoic AI will begin to see the optimal ads-per-page numbers for your site (again, it finds this through using placeholders — the more on your site, the more data the AI has). If an advertiser began paying you, say, $100 for a single ad on your site, great. But that advertiser is likely to decrease their spending if you shove in more ads on the site, lowering the value of their original ad. One ad for $100 is better than 10 ads at $5 apiece.
All this happens over time, and it’s a process the Ezoic AI is uniquely skilled at (in the past, site owners would have to be the mediators between ad networks and their site, to mostly ineffective results). This isn’t to say that all Ezoic sites will show fewer ads over time, but it happens often and can happen for you. Again, the point is balance — how can the AI reach the optimal point of maximum revenue and highest user experience?
This is also why increasing the diversity of your placeholders is so important. As one of Ezoic’s product and operations directors explained to me, “Ensuring you have a good number of placeholders, which includes having more than one of the same type in similar locations (ie: Two top of page placeholders, in slightly different spots) allows the platform to optimize better.”
This means that the more placeholders, the better (within reason). “The number can get really long depending on the type of website and the content they have,” the Ezoic director went on. “For example, a stereotypical blog that has both short and longform content will likely have way more placeholders, especially when they have articles that hit the 3000–5000 word range. So that means to efficiently cover that content they will have way more placeholders than a publisher who only writes short form.”
There are plenty of stellar reasons why every Ezoic publisher should maximize their site’s placeholder count. Here are some more compelling reasons:
- Better User Experience: More placeholders doesn’t mean more ads will show, rather it allows Ezoic to better place (via machine learning) the right ad types in the right locations based on different visitor segments.
- Increased EPMV potential: With more options for ad placement, publishers allow more advertisers to bid on their inventory.
- Increased ad visibility: Multiple placeholders gives potential for ads to be seen in multiple locations across their website and/or page, increasing the chances that a visitor will interact with an ad resulting in higher click-through rate.
- Improved page loading time: With multiple placeholders, ad units can be staggered, reducing the page loading time. This creates a better user experience; visitors are more likely to stay on your page longer and increase engagement.
With every test our Ezoic team has conducted, we’ve seen sites that opt to have more placeholders simply perform better with countless key metrics, but most importantly revenue. Although there’s a lot that goes into a site earning more revenue, it’s clear that increasing placeholders has a significant correlation to increased site revenue.