Before we get going here, I’m going to provide some context around how I view digital publishing. I’m an engineer, and Sortable got into the publishing industry by launching a number of product comparison websites, powered by technology we created. Digital publishing is full of inefficiencies, and we were fortunate to have the engineering resources internally to develop solutions through technology and, as we pivoted, start offering these solutions to others. Publishing is both an art and a science, and publishers need to give as much attention to the science (engineering) as they do to the art (content and marketing). I believe that solving engineering problems, or focusing on the science, of this industry improves the ecosystem for everyone and that building technical solutions to common challenges enables the artists to do their best work.
It’s common for publishers to use CPM to compare the performance of ad partners. However, CPM doesn’t take into account a variety of factors, and can leave publishers confused when the CPMs on partner dashboards don’t translate to revenue. In order for publishers to truly understand how partners are performing, they need to look at eCPM and revenue, not just CPM.
The effects of implementing the Video Player Ad-Serving Interface Definition (VPAID) standard have sparked several discussions online (Reddit, Hacker News) among dissatisfied users. There have even been in-depth breakdowns of the closely related Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) standard, digging into the potentially excessive amounts of data consumed on some mobile sites using these technologies. The consensus seems to be that the misuse of technologies like VPAID or VAST drive the adoption of ad blockers, and contribute to a general distrust of web advertising.
A few weeks ago, we contributed an article to AdExchanger’s Data-Driven Thinking column about the civil war within the advertising industry. In the article, we discussed that the industry factions could be in trouble — with the exception of Google. We wanted to expand on why and how Google became such a powerful player in the online advertising industry.
Above the fold (ATF) inventory has always been in high demand and at a premium. Advertisers want to ensure that their brand creatives are highly visible, located front and center when a visitor lands on a page. It’s assumed that these high visibility slots will also pay high CPMs (Cost Per Thousand), and publishers are often eager to stuff their pages with above the fold inventory in an effort to capture those high CPMs. But are all above the fold slots created equal? Are ATF slots the only way to ensure high CPMs? And are the ads even being seen?
Back in January, I posted the findings from an experiment we ran to measure what happens when you increase the number of header bidders, and how that impacts CPM. We found that there is a strong correlation between increasing bidders and increased average CPM performance; we saw a 58% increase in CPMs when running 6 bidders versus none.
I think I’ve scared the bejesus out of the marketing department (aka Brenden and Kelly, who sit next to me) with the decision that the CEO wants to write some long form content on why I bought back my last startup, Snapsort. We’re going to hit send on this, look at some heatmaps and realize 80% of people bailed at the first paragraph (right… here.)
As publishers, we must monetize, and those of us who aren’t in a monopoly position à la Google or Facebook are at the mercy of a fragmented and messy, but necessary, adtech ecosystem. It’s how thousands of us make money and it certainly has its problems and frustrations.
An estimated 200 million people worldwide are using an adblocker every day. In Germany several media companies tried twice last month to sue Eyeo, the creator of AdBlock Plus, failing both times. The courts made the right call, the industry has no one but itself to blame, so where do we go from here?