Types of Advertising & Ad Types (… and why you should test them)
We are often bombarded with questions from publishers. The most common questions are ‘what is the ‘ideal’ ad setup for my site?’ And ‘where should I put ad placeholders?’ Or, ‘Is there an ‘ideal’ ratio of display ads to native ads?’ ‘Should I consider mobile interstitials?’ ‘What about in-line ads – are they too intrusive for my site?’
That’s a lot of questions. But, these are common among most publishers. To come to your own conclusions it’s best to first educate yourself around all the different types of ads and advertising that exist. This will give you greater context for what you should be doing. Answering questions like “how many types of display ads are there”, can go a long way to helping you feel more comfortable with your site.
Balance ad placements with user experience
‘How do I make the most money out of my site without spamming out / annoying my users? (or, for that matter, Google?)’
Well – first of all, this is not an easy question to answer. It’s a common misconception that there is some ‘ideal’ site set up for ads – or that there is a permanent answer to this question. The reality is that monetizing content is a process, not a solution. It’s a constantly moving target. Browser/operating systems and devices change monthly. Add to the mix other factors such as ad blindness, seasonality, and changing traffic sources and it becomes an even more complex question. There is no ‘a one size fits all’ answer…
This article will help you get to grips with which ad types you should try and why.
Testing Ad Types in Combination
Ask any seasoned webmaster and most will agree that testing ad combinations is a great idea — the trouble is it’s tedious and difficult to do manually (that’s why we recommend using A.I. to do it for you). To get into testing ad types, you need to understand one basic fact of life for all ad-funded content, which is:
“All ads dilute one another”
Remember that. We’ve found that good monetization optimization is holistic and should not be done on a per page metric. Most ad network representatives will suggest adding more and more ad units (‘move the ad tag higher / closer to the content’ they’ll say). The problem with that approach is that ‘just one more ad’ may be costing you a lot more than it’s gaining you.
You might get an incremental income per page, but at the loss to your session duration and page views per visitor (in other words – at the expense of your overall income!). Adding ‘just one more’ ad can actually result in you making much less over time.
So, as with all testing, you need to be clear on your metrics for success. We suggest using EPMV (earnings per thousand visits; and not RPM). And if you don’t believe me do the math for yourself and read this article on why this is a vital metric.
Some tests are going to be more likely to work than others. Once you test, measure the overall income change and UX response, and get enough data to know that what you’ve tried actually worked (or didn’t) you will be one step toward your quest for ‘better ad income’ from the same traffic.
Different Ad Types & Strategies
Types of Display Ads:
Display ads – Ad Exchanges (eCPM): This is where the display ad on the page is filled by the winner of a real time bidding auction: Top 5 are Double Click (Google) AdX is the largest, with other major players including OpenX, AppNexus & Marketplace (AOL)
Display Ads – Ad Networks (eCPM/CPC): Google AdSense is the largest. There are a gazillion others – most of which also buy inventory via ad exchanges (see the previous article on this here)
Display Ads – Direct deals (CPC/CPM/CPA) – Best inserted into your real time bidding environment so the advertiser cannot circumvent the auction. It’s quite often the case that it’s in the advertiser’s interests (not the publishers) to scoop up inventory and tie it in, without having to compete for it. Direct deals only work for a publisher when they are guaranteed to beat the best bid in the ad exchanges.
Display ads – Affiliate ads (CPA). If you’re running an out and out affiliate site (writing content for advertisers) – this is going to be your best choice.
Affiliate sites are all about writing content for advertisers and getting paid on a cost per sale basis.
Native ads (CPC/eCPM). These are article style ads that are ‘native’ looking (i.e. similar to your own content). They can be an excellent source of income for sites with social traffic. It’s important to test the efficacy of native vs display. Nine times out of ten, display ad income value for ‘one ad’ is better than native, so be sure to test combinations of native and display. Also, think about the fact you’re sending visitors away from your site to view more content and getting paid on a CPC. If you have a high EPMV site, you might want to keep them on your site and show them your own articles! Once again – this is where testing is vital. Revenue potential 10-15%
Example of native ad units:
What is an in line ad?
These are ads within the written content of your site and are activated to show a larger video or display unit when rolled over with a mouse. These are good for high bounce rate sites (like reference sites for example), and when used in moderation can lift overall ad income by 9-12%
In-line ads show when you roll over a word of text that is highlighted / underlined
Mobile Anchor or Overlay ads.
These are the so-called sticky ad units that sit at the bottom of the page on mobile and stay there. They are always visible and for that reason are highly effective. 15-25% mobile ad income boost.
Mobile – Vignette ads. Full screen ads that appear between page loads with an obvious [close] function. Worth testing, but can negatively affect bounce rates and time on site (see above notes!)
In APP (ad Mob) ads. If you have an iOS app or Android app for your content, you’ll need to insert ad mob ads via DFP/ADX. These ads are like regular display ads, but don’t need a browser to load to show (and will show offline). Essential for anyone monetizing within those ecosystems.
Pop Unders (CPM/CPC) Ads that launch another site in a new tab usually below the tab being used. With the emergence of in-browser pop up blockers, the dubious quality of the advertisers who use these ad sizes and the unpopularity with users, they only work with certain sites.
Ad Types and ad densities must be aligned
Before you start adding in new ad units and testing new ad combinations on mobile, you should consider what your goals are for your optimization? Are you willing to sacrifice some UX in exchange for extra ad income? Or do you want to protect UX metrics as to optimize for better ad income?
In short – you need to know that user experience enhancement is as important and, I’d say, vital a part of your strategy for improving overall ad income. Ezoic has been tackling this for a long time (we’ve learned this from experience), but without getting into too much detail, you need to know what you want out of testing and be clear about whether you aim to maintain, sacrifice or enhance UX – before you go about boosting ad income and testing new ad types or units.
So, there are caveats out of the way. I don’t want everyone to think I’m dodging the question here, but it has to be said – just adding more ads or more varied ad types is not necessarily going to make you more money!
Hopefully, this helps you better understand ad types and why you be testing them holistically on your site.