What Is Ad Yield and Why Publishers Should Care About It
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What Is Ad Yield and How to Optimize It

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Global digital ad spend has been steadily rising for years now and is predicted to reach a whopping $441 billion in 2022! However, with an ever-increasing demand for online ad inventory came many challenges — the one that struck online publishers the hardest was managing and optimizing their ad yield.

a chart illustrating the increase in global digital ad spend over the last few years
Global digital ad spend is predicted to reach $441 billion by 2022

But why has ad yield management proven such a pain point for publishers? The reason is simple — most online advertisers nowadays use programmatic advertising to grow their businesses, and programmatic ad tech requires a high amount of expertise to handle optimally. The fact that programmatic technology is still relatively young doesn’t help, either.

So what are some yield optimization techniques publishers can use to maximize their earnings? Can they still do something to increase their revenue even if they’re not that experienced? That’s what we’re going to find out!

But first, let’s cover the basics.

What Is Ad Yield?

Ad yield is the amount of revenue you earn from your ads — it’s that simple. In other words, it is an indicator of how successful your advertising efforts were.

There is no surefire way to predict your exact ad yield, but publishers can calculate a rough estimate using their average CPM (cost per mille) and ad fill rate.

Since ad yield represents your ad income, it shouldn’t be surprising publishers are always looking for ways to maximize it. That is where ad yield management and optimization techniques come in!

What Is Yield Management and Optimization?

Ad yield management is the process of tracking and analyzing your advertising efforts and using the collected data to optimize your ads for maximum performance. Publishers use various circumstantial elements, audience behavior data, ad placement information, and similar to tweak their creatives for optimal profit.

By employing variable pricing strategies and altering them on the go, publishers can get the best bang for their buck for their available ad inventory. And when coupled with advanced audience targeting options like contextual targeting and behavioral targeting, there’s plenty of room for publishers to drive more revenue through yield management.

Yield management can have such excellent ROI that large-scale businesses often have entire teams dedicated to it. Unfortunately, smaller brands don’t always have the resources to get the same support. Luckily, outsourcing yield management is a much cheaper but still viable solution.

Even if you’re not that experienced in yield optimization, there’s no need to feel intimidated. You don’t have to be a seasoned advertiser to start with yield management. The key to success lies in implementing the right strategy, optimized specifically to your industry and business goals. And that is what we’re here to help you with!

Although there is a lot to cover, let’s begin by suggesting a few yield management methods you should try.

Where to Do Yield Management

an image illustrating the three places where publishers can do yield management

Before getting to advanced yield management techniques, the first thing you’ll need to figure out is where you’ll be doing yield management. You will determine that by figuring out which programmatic method will be your go-to one.

There are three excellent programmatic methods to focus on when looking to optimize your creatives:

  • Real-Time Bidding (RTB) — RTB is a programmatic method of buying and selling ad space in real time using an auction-based model. Real-time bidding usually takes place in an ad exchange, where multiple advertisers compete for impressions in a given publisher’s ad inventory. This method is one of the most common ones in the programmatic advertising world and is likely the best place to start. 
  • Programmatic DirectProgrammatic direct is the most profitable programmatic method but the most challenging to set up. With programmatic direct, publishers negotiate and sell their inventory to advertisers directly at high prices. That is particularly useful for niche websites that attract highly relevant advertisers and get them on board at premium rates.
  • Private Marketplace (PMP) — Private marketplaces are specialized invite-only auctions where only a select few advertisers can bid on publishers’ inventories. This option is likely the best one as it gives publishers the most control over who can purchase their ad space. At the same time, publishers have plenty of room to maximize profit by letting advertisers compete for impressions. 

Whichever of the options above you settle for, there will be plenty of room for yield optimization. However, your best bet would be to try to strike a balance between the three for the highest fill rates.

Best Practices for Optimizing Ad Yield

After you’ve chosen which programmatic method you’ll focus on, it’s time to optimize your ad yield. Here’s some helpful yield management advice to help you on your journey:

1. Ensure Your Ads Adhere to Google’s Better Ads Standards

Considering that most online advertising goes through Google ADX nowadays and that Google offers premium CPM, you’d be remiss not to use it. However, relying on Google ADX comes with a catch — Google has quite strict advertising standards. Not adhering to Google’s Better Ads Standards can result in your ads failing to serve, having them rejected, or even penalizing your website.

That is why the first thing you should do is ensure all ads appearing on your website adhere to these standards! If you don’t, your online advertising efforts may collapse before they even take root. 

Learn More About Google’s Better Ads Standards and Specifications for Publishers Here.

2. Leverage the Power of Native Ads

If you actively follow online advertising trends, you’ll likely be aware of this tip already, but it’s still worth emphasizing. Over the last few years, all major online platforms have been favoring native ads over all others.

Why? Because native ads blend in with a website’s content better and are far less intrusive. That is particularly true for native video ads that many large media companies and publishers use to monetize their sites. 

Native advertisements overall offer increased ad visibility and higher ROI, so they’re worth considering when looking to optimize ad yield.

3. Maximize Ad Viewability

Ad viewability is crucial to maximizing impressions and yield. After all, users have to see the ad for it to count as an impression, don’t they?

But how do you determine whether an ad is viewed or not? It’s pretty straightforward — according to IAB’s standards, an ad counts as a valid impression if at least half of it appears visible on screen for over a second.

So why is optimizing for ad viewability so challenging? There are a few reasons:

  • Publishers can only put a limited number of ads above the fold to adhere to Google’s user-experience standards.
  • Overstuffing your website with ads will result in a poor user experience and may get you penalized.
  • Adding way too many ad slots on your site may achieve the opposite effect and reduce ad viewability due to multiple ads overlapping.

So what are the best options for publishers to maximize ad viewability? Here are a few tips:

  • Keep the number of ads above the fold to a minimum (one or two ads maximum).
  • Sufficiently space out your ad slots so that no ads overlap with each other.
  • Keep the number of pop-ups to a minimum. 
  • Make sure your most profitable ads have the best viewability (e.g., outstream video ads).

Bonus Tip: An excellent way to maximize your outstream video ads’ viewability is to make them sticky. That way, they will follow the users while they scroll down the page, maximizing view rates and yield.

4. Use Price Floors Wisely

Setting up price floors can be an excellent way for publishers to exercise more control over their inventory and how they sell it. If your goal is to optimize ad yield, setting up price floors should be the first thing you try! That is particularly true for large publishers who won’t have hard times achieving high fill rates.

Setting price floors means publishers can determine a minimum price for their ad inventory, making it more competitive for the bidders. However, just like price flooring can boost your ad yield, it can also damage it; if your price floors are too high, and there’s not enough demand for your inventory, you might end up damaging your bottom line by selling too few impressions.

So proceed with caution when setting price floors!

5. Optimize for Mobile

When looking to optimize ad yield, taking mobile users into account is crucial. Why? Because over 50% of global internet traffic comes from mobile devices! That means if your website and ads aren’t optimized for mobile users, you’re missing out on a massive potential audience.

Here are a few things you can do to ensure your site and ads are ready for mobile visitors:

  • Make your website quick and responsive — Every advertiser worth their salt will tell you that a responsive and healthy website is as important as an ad itself! That is particularly true when it comes to optimizing for mobile users. Ensuring that your site is lightweight and that your ads load quickly is crucial to making your visitors’ experience smooth. If the former isn’t enough to illustrate the importance of mobile optimization, think of it this way — for every ad that fails to load on a user’s phone, you lose money! And you don’t want that, do you?
  • Leverage the massive reach of mobile ad networks — The mobile advertising market is so vast that there are many dedicated mobile ad networks out there. Using them to serve ads to your mobile visitors will give you access to various mobile-specific ad types that are guaranteed to boost your yield over the long run. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that mobile ad networks come with more affordable rates than standard ones due to their particular market. So there’s nothing to lose by giving them a shot!
  • Choose your ad formats carefully — With so many ad formats out there, choosing the best ones can be pretty challenging. From different types of video ads to mobile-specific ad formats, the options are nearly limitless. But having mobile in mind when choosing how to advertise online is imperative for maximizing ad yield. So when it comes down to optimizing your campaigns, always ask yourself how your ad format of choice would look and perform on phones and tablets. If you neglect taking that into account, you will turn your back to a large and lucrative market!

Bonus Tip: More and more publishers are trying mobile video advertising by the day and finding success! So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to boost ad yield, mobile video ads might be worth giving a shot!

6. Maximize Profit With Direct Deals

When we talked about the three most common programmatic methods, we mentioned that programmatic direct was the most profitable one. However, selling your entire ad inventory directly is quite challenging and might only be possible for the most reputable and niche websites out there.

Still, a surefire way to increase your ad yield is to boost your number of direct sales. That is why optimizing your advertising efforts to include more direct deals is pivotal to achieving the highest yield.

7. Make the Most of Header Bidding

The easiest way to maximize ad yield is by employing some of the advanced programmatic techniques. One of the most lucrative ones by far is header bidding; it can increase your yield by as much as 45%!

Header bidding or prebidding allows publishers to offer their inventory to several SSPs and ad exchanges simultaneously, maximizing the odds of getting premium prices for their ad slots. The only downside to header bidding is that it’s quite a complex ecosystem, so not many advertising platforms support it yet. But if your goal is to boost your yield, looking for a way to implement header bidding into your advertising efforts is undoubtedly the best course of action!

And if you want to drive your revenue up even further, try video header bidding! As we’ve already mentioned, video advertising has been on the rise over the last few years, and header bidding can increase your video ad revenue even further. The only hurdle you’ll have to overcome is to find the appropriate online video platform with advanced player prebidding

If that’s the only thing stopping you from delving into the world of video header bidding, Brid.TV can help you. Our lightweight HTML5 video player is equipped with the latest header bidding technology that lets publishers set up video prebids using SpotX or Prebid.js quickly and easily through our video CMS. 

Scaling your video advertising efforts through video header bidding is undoubtedly the best and easiest way to increase your yield. So if you wish to begin leveraging a premium video platform to make more money with video header bidding, send us an email, and our team will give you a demo and help you get started!

Final Thoughts

Yield management and optimization are essential for publishers looking to grow their businesses through the power of advertising. While smaller brands can get away without investing much into yield optimization, larger publishers can lose millions without it!

Regardless of whether you decide to take your yield management in-house or outsource it, you should by no means neglect it if your goal is to build a long-lasting, sustainable business. And if you’re looking to get on board with the new trends, getting into video advertising seems to be the most promising course of action. Luckily, programmatic video technology is as advanced as ever, so you won’t be losing anything by switching from display and banner advertising to video.

However, if you prefer to stay old-school, that’s perfectly viable too. Just make sure to keep an eye out for any drastic changes in the industry, so you’re not left behind. 

We hope that the tips we provided above help you make the most of your advertising efforts and maximize your yield. 

Best of luck to you!