Yield Management & Optimization for Publishers

Category: Publishers Posted at: 2016-08-07

As a publisher, your bottom line is to get the highest yield in return for your precious impressions. Small publishers have the luxury of testing, and scaling. However, as you grow to become a premium publisher, yield management, yield optimization, and overall ad operations can become cumbersome. We know a segment of big publishers who are more likely to outsource their ad optimization and testing. On the other hand, there are other publishers who are more comfortable having an in-house team of ad ops to manage their inventory.

Here we bring you THE ultimate list on yield optimization for publishers. Based from real, time-tested, ad operations experience – we lay out the best tips and techniques for optimizing and managing your remnant ad inventory.


1) Build a site layout that’s in season

Consider some site redesign depending on the celebration or season. If it’s St. Patrick’s Day, why not change the theme to green or something related? When the site is fun and in season, user engagement is likely to improve. Also, check out metrics that relate to your user-experience (i.e. bounce rates, top exit pages, average time on site). Keeping users engaged is key to monetization.

2) Master acronyms & numbers

CPM, RPM, CPC, CTR — do your assignment and master your key performance indicators. Check out our AsOps Q&A: Understanding CPC and CPM Pricing.

3) Text ads – complement, blend, contrast

Experiment with text ads by doing some tweaks in the colors. Some color combinations perform better than others. It depends on the site and the only way to see which one works perfectly for you is to test!

4) Use the best performing ad sizes

For desktop, the ad sizes proven to be most effective are 728×90, 300×250, 336×280 and 160×600. Placement and targeting are key. When you find the perfect blend of sizes and their placements, you’re on the right track!

5) Stay compliant with AdSense policies

It’s simple. If you want to stay in business, comply with the rules. Check out our fun meme: 10 Most Common Adsense Violations.



6) Use an ad server

An ad server is extremely necessary especially for high level ad optimization. It allows you to set bidding priorities, day & time for the ads to serve, geos and device to target, etc. It’s also the main tool for Ad Exchange to compete with the rest of the 3rd party ad networks. The tighter the competition, the higher the CPMs.

Read: Top 8 Ad Servers for Publishers

7) Ad targeting

Plan out how you will target your ad inventory. You can have tiers (e.g. geos, devices). In most cases, Tier 1 geos tend to perform better than rest of the world. This means, optimization is more granular, enabling you to rank the bids accordingly.

8) Implement geo targeting & frequency capping

It pays to ask your ad representative (if not known yet) what their top performing geos are and target those accordingly. If their reporting interface cannot generate a report by geo with just a single tag, be sure to request a separate tag based on your targeting. You might want to try Tier 1 vs Rest of the world.

Frequency capping is used particularly for ad networks that cannot fill at 100%. This is to limit the number of times they can bid on the site and minimize passbacks. This is optional though.

9) Choose the bigger counterpart over the small ones

You want to run multiple ad sizes on your ATF placement? Say you have 728×90/468×60, just stick to 728×90 and ditch 468×60, unless you have a good paying advertiser willing to buy it. Advertisers usually pay higher CPMs for bigger ad sizes. The same is true with mobile wherein 300×250 is far better than 320×50.

10) Try non standard ads

You cannot just rely on standard ads alone. An extra revenue stream is always a big help. Try out anchors, sliders, interstitials, popunders. We’re not telling you to run all of them! Choose the format that you think would fit your site perfectly without being ‘too spammy’ or user-intrusive.

11) Leverage CPM floors

Play with CPM floors. It allows you to set the minimum amount acceptable to you and filter out low paying ads.

12) Have a strong passback waterfall & avoid infinite loop

The main challenge here is finding a good ad network to use – minimal discrepancy, good CPMs, decent fill rate. Key is to test and see. One very crucial thing to remember: avoid infinite loop. This means, passing the impression back to the same ad network in the chain. A very lengthy waterfall is not recommended as it results to lost impressions. We would recommend maximum of 3 ad networks in the chain, and all terminates in a 100% fill ad network. It’s easier to track and monitor.

Read: Well-Organized Passback Strategy!

13) Go Header Bidding

Tested and proven to increase yield by up to 35%. Header bid solution provides a lift by competing with AdX directly, with DFP being the decisioning machine. No more passbacks to monitor, plus it grants access to premium advertisers. Implementation could be challenging but it’s all worth it in the end.



14) Build a mobile responsive site

Aside from it being favorable to Google’s search engine, a mobile responsive website gives better experience to users. The content is viewable, readable, clean, and sleek. It breeds trust and trust means revenue.

15) Treat tablet as desktop

We recommend that your layout for tablet be similar to desktop. This is because CPMs tend to be higher for bigger ad sizes.

16) Sign up with mobile ad networks for mobile inventory

Rationale:  They have access to bigger mobile advertisers and their campaigns are specifically for mobile and the rates are usually better. Some examples: Google Ad Exchange, Smaato, Millennial Media, Glam Media, Optima Media.

17) Try 300×250 BTF on mobile

Tendency for mobile users is to scroll down to read your site’s content. This is why in most cases (not all), below the fold ad placements tend to attract engagement.

18) Try mobile in-banner video

Video pays higher than display – of course! But in order not to compromise page load times, decide on the maximum number of video ads you want to run and target them accordingly via an ad server/DFP.


We hope you enjoyed Yield Management and Optimization for Publishers.