Measure Online Ad Rates vs. Your Site
One of the hardest secrets to uncover if you’re a publisher or site owner is what other sites are actually earning from their display or programmatic ads. This is a closely guarded black box; with many ad partners forbidding outward data-sharing. This means a lot of publishers are left guessing on what current ad rates are. This can be dangerous and frustrating.
It’s one of the most common questions across ad ops and site owner forums across the web, “are ad rates down for everyone, or just me”? That question usually meets a stalemate because there are so many factors involved and no publisher is outwardly sharing all of their ad revenue data (yikes, why would they).
That’s why the new Ad Revenue Index — that finally sheds some light on all of this — is so great for site owners and publishers. No longer do we have to guess about ad rates. We can finally see if changes on our sites are in concordance with marketplace trends or more specific to our individual sites. It’s publically available and you can view it by clicking the link above.
Are ad rates down or is it just me?
Yeah, this is probably another one of the most common questions for ad ops and site operation professionals. It’s really hard to answer, but if you are having drops, the first thing you should do is check the Ad Revenue Index.
We talked deeply about seasonal trends seen in the index here, and then dove deeper into how to troubleshoot and identify other things that may be affecting your site’s revenue here. Both of these should be read first if you are trying to figure out an issue or surge with your site’s ad rates or revenue.
If you simply want to see if you’re beating everyone else, keep reading. We’ll take you through some things you can consider and some strategies to keep you above the pack.
Am I getting better advertising rates than most sites?
The index isn’t probably going to tell you if you are actually earning more than the field of other sites out there. However, you can see how you are performing historically in relation to trends.
If your site avoids dips — or remains steady — through lulls in the index, it is probably a good sign that you are outperforming other sites. However, even if you are on trend, it doesn’t necessarily mean you “average” or earning more or less than the rest of the sites on the internet.
The only thing you can really measure when you’re on trend is yourself. If your site is consistently producing higher session earnings month over month you will eventually be one of the higher performing sites in your niche.
You can learn exactly how to calculate session earnings here.
Session earnings provide a true north
Identifying your session earnings over time will tell you a lot more about how your site is earning than CPM’s — or event the index. They will tell you if the ads and user experiences produced by your site are earning you more money per visitor than you were at a previous time.
If you have a linear progression here, congratulations, this means you are well on your way to being a high earner in your niche. However, most sites fluctuate here. Many, because they do not truly know if the ads they have on the page are really earning them more or not because of seasonal trends.
That’s why EPMV (or session earnings) is a much better metric to review all of this.
Session earnings (or EPMV) will — by its very nature — consider bounce rate and pageviews per visit in the calculation. As we know, the more pages visitors view, the more valuable and high-earning they become. That’s why it’s so important to measure things by looking at overall user session.
Having a high-earning page with a high bounce rate may actually earn less than a low-earning page that causes users to visit multiple other pages. This is why looking at averages for session revenue is best for figuring out how you are performing overall.
What to do with digital ad rates
If you’re interested in ad rates — and how your site relates to trends — the Ad Revenue Index is the tool for you. If you want to see if you are one of the highest earners in your niche, there isn’t a great way to do this. The best thing you can do is measure your own progress. Consistent progress ensures you are one of these tops sites over time.
Tyler is an award-winning digital marketer, SEO veteran, successful start-up founder, and well-known publishing industry speaker. Tyler also serves as the host of Pubtelligence, a publishers-only event hosted at Google offices around the globe. Tyler describes his core competency as learning. He has composed content for some of the world’s top publications and has over a decade of experience building businesses in the digital space. Tyler is currently the Head of Marketing at Ezoic and serves as an SEO and marketing expert for start-up competitions across the U.S.