Introduction to Programmatic Ad Buying and Selling: Over the years, we have seen a swift transition from direct ads to contextual ads, retargeting, and now programmatic. The adtech landscape comes with innovation and expertise that tries to add value to both advertisers and publishers. ROI for advertisers seems to be highest with programmatic ads and also publishers are able to earn a good hefty volume for these ads. What has eventually changed is the approach to ad buying & selling. In this article, we will take a deep dive into programmatic landscape and how publishers should work out their ad setup to further increase their ad revenue with programmatic ads. We will start with two heavy terms that immensely do justice to programmatic ad buying — DFP first look and Header bidding!
DFP First Look- What is it for Publishers?
Impressions that worth the most equals DFP First look. ADX buyers and all exchange bidding partners are now able to take a first look at the impressions since most of the sellers/publishers use DFP and thus Google can provide much more information about the audience than any other network due to this technological dominance. This effectively means buyers are willing to pay a higher price for the audience and it should be well above the average pricing tier. We have seen CPMs to be as high as USD 4 and above with DFP First Look. The rise of programmatic
Header Bidding Auctions: The Game Changer?
Header bidding is a definite way to increase your overall ad revenue if you’ve good volume of tier 1 traffic. Using ADX alone would minimize the competition! Using multiple SSPs will push ADX to pay more and thus you can have additional ad revenue coming to you either from your DFP enabled ADX (via First Look or Dynamic allocation) or from the ADX bids which are coming from different SSPs.
From AdSense>> Google ADX>> SSPs
For viral, news, social publishers, this should be the gameplan– AdSense>ADX>SSPs. If you’re a niche publisher, then you should definitely stick to AdSense since the program works best for niche publishers who generate high revenue with targeted CPC ads. You should better look for ad optimization companies like AdPushup who are excellent at increasing your click-through rate of AdSense ads. However, if you’re a news, social, or a publisher who writes about general topics with no niche audience, you have to move ahead from AdSense to ADX and then switch to SSPs. Most of the SSPs only accept high traffic sites and thus you need to enter via some ad ops companies.
Why Publishers should use SSPs?
Supply side platforms are in business because they are able to inflate the value of the impressions of the publishers by adding a data layer to it. Most of the SSPs are integrated with top DSPs, ad exchanges, buying platforms. With a real time buying and by adding more insights to publisher’s inventory, these SSP platforms are able to guarantee better rates for the publishers.
What has Changed with the Rise of Programmatic Buying?
I had the idea that buyers are always willing to pay a higher price for premium traffic. This would essentially mean tier one traffic which is in great demand when compared to tier 2 and tier 3. So, if any network of exchange gives higher rates, this would imply that they will be taking all of the tier one traffic and you will be left with low paying traffic to monetize with AdSense or any other fallback network with close to 100% fill rate. However, the rise of programmatic buying has changed this overall perspective of audience buying.
It all comes would to the worth of an impression in the eyes of an advertiser. A particular audience or audience set may not be from tier 1 traffic, but exactly matches the targeting options of an advertiser and is one of the potential customer (who might have already visited the advertiser’s site one). Now, the value of this visitor is a lot high in the eyes of this advertiser and he/she is willing to pay a premium price to show an ad impression to this visitor. If he has an idea of the bids, then he would place a bid which is 1.5X more than the average bid or maybe much higher if he doesn’t have any idea of the bids of other advertisers. Consequently, the publisher is gaining a significant volume of revenue from this.
How to Increase your Programmatic Ad Revenue?
DFP is a good tool which should be used for along with a few header bidding wrappers. For a publisher doing an average of 20,000 to 150,000 page views a day, it makes more sense to work with ad optimization agencies who have a direct seat at many SSPs and Exchanges (most of the exchanges have a cutoff of 10 million page views a month) Most of the ad optimization agencies who get your domain approved on these SSPs and Exchanges and give you a tag which you can either independently plug to your site or use an ad server like DSP. You fill rates will vary depending on the floor prices which are being set and the audience quality, ad tag location and refresh interval. I would suggest you setup the tag from your first SSP at Standard or Network priority level while creating the line item.
Generate a passback tag, and give it to the ad optimization agency! If your fill rate in not around 90-100%, you should be using your ADX as the remnant line item. So, anything which your header partner is not able to fill will be filled by your Ad exchange.
Now, if you still have some impressions left which are not filled, you can further increase your scope of revenue by tieing up with some local ad networks for your top geos which works on CPC basis and run them as a fallback. So, you complete ad stack should be looking like this
DFP First Look>> Header bidding Partner 1>> your ADX >> Fallback networks
DFP First look>> Header bidding Partner 1>> Header bidding Partner 2>> your ADX>> Fallback networks
This setup will allow ADX to take impressions via DFP first look and also allow dynamic allocation to work efficiently.
Programmatic Ads CPM Rates
DFP first look is one of the best example of programmatic buying where the buyers are given preferential treatment above the sponsorship line items and can buy impressions at higher rates. Also direct deal programmatic channels can open up additional revenue for publishers if that is negotiated well within the Ad Exchange. The CPM rates for DFP first look is almost 3 to 4 times of your average CPM. It can be higher at times depending upon the advertiser demand.
Header Bidding CPM Rates
Header bidding works on a first price auction model where the highest bid is sent to the publisher ad server. There are basically three types of header bidding (client side, server side, and hybrid) each with their own benefits and drawbacks. The hybrid header bidding tends to minimize the drawback of both the server and the client side. The CPM rates are higher and can be 50% above of what you’re getting due to increased competition of the advertisers. So, if you’re making an average CPM of 50 cents, with the onset of header bidding, you can see a CPM of 75 cents and above on your traffic. Further, optimizing the price floor can give you better results and thus is recommended by many ad traffickers.
If you’re a publisher who has a huge volume of traffic, you next bet is DFP premium. Not only the premium version of DFP offers additional opportunities, but it also allows publishers to have a data layer added on the inventory which increases the worth of the inventory significantly.
I hope you have been able to extrapolate a few key takeaways from this section which if properly implemented in the long run will increase your overall revenue. The first crucial factor is to write very engaging content which will be read, noticed, and appreciated by all your visitors, since the current standard metric has changed from CPM/eCPM to EPV (which means earnings per visits). The quality of the audience worths more and it can only be achieved by putting up good quality articles. The better the quality, the high will be the engagement rate, and also the quality of the audience coming to the website. Additionally, you’re losing a lot of revenue if you’re only using AdSense (unless its a niche blog with high click-through-rate). News, social, general purpose websites tend to perform better on CPM basis and SSPs.
Round Up: Advertisers are Smart. You need to be Smarter
Remember that Advertisers will always find a way to pay you the least. They are smart. They will either do it by bidding low rates on your impressions at Ad exchange if you don’t have competition or they will do it via SSPs. Most of the top advertisers reserve a seat at all exchanges, DSPs, and top SSPs. Also advertisers can buy impressions from any SSP even if they have a seat on any of the top exchange like Appnexus, Google ADX etc. Thus, they will try to find a way to bid at your impressions at lower rates. You need to be ensure that the impressions which are worth the most of not give at low rates, and this is where adding a number of header bidding partners, SSPs, DSPs come into play. Also, it is essential that you use DFP unless you have a very complicated setup, to give space for DFP first look which can be a significant portion of your ad revenue.
Hope this article has given you some good idea of DFP first look, and how you can use DFP ad server to increase your programmatic ad revenue in 2018. If you’re using only AdSense or AdX, then you’re definitely leaving money on the table! Book a consultation with me to know how you can effectively increase your overall ad revenue across programmatic channels and through header bidding!