When you run multiple ad networks, passbacks can be an absolute nightmare. You can make it easy on yourself and point all your passbacks to the same ad network and the same ad tag. This is the simplest strategy, however, it isn’t the most optimal strategy. Having such a strategy does not maximize your CPM.
Your passback strategy has a huge impact on your overall average CPM. Therefore, getting lazy on your passback strategy is a huge missed opportunity. Plus, you won’t be able to track each ad network’s passbacks to make sure every ad impression is properly passing back.
Redirect passbacks to DFP: Premium Account only
You could try re-directing your passbacks to DFP and having DFP intelligently re-distribute the traffic. This would be the best strategy, however, it doesn’t work for DFP Small Business. If you have DFP Premium, more power to ya! If you try this strategy, you will face a huge impression discrepancies and will have to avoid infinite looping.
For example, if your Advertising.com ad tags sent passbacks to DFP and you have the same tags setup at the top of your passback hierarchy within DFP with an open frequency cap, you’ll be stuck with an infinite loop of Advertising.com passing back to itself infinitely. Third-party ad networks passing back to DFP is not a properly working feature for DFP Small Business. Perhaps, this is an upsell strategy for Google.
Create a Waterfall Chain Strategy
For the majority of publishers, you’ll have to be more crafty. The next best strategy is to create short string waterfall chains. Below is an example of a waterfall chain strategy:
Eg. Casale Media -> ContextWeb -> Google Ad Exchange -> ValueClick
You don’t want to make your waterfall chain too big because your site latency will suffer and some ads might time out. You don’t want a waterfall chain bigger than the above example. The beginning of your chain should start with a high CPM ad network with a low fill rate. As you get further through the chain, the CPM should get lower and the fill rate should get higher. By the time you get to the end of the chain, there should only be a trickle of traffic.
The last ad setup should guarantee a 100% fill. If you are eligible and using Google Ad Exchange, use a third party ad network. If you’re not using Ad Exchange, use Google AdSense as the last ad network in the chain. It is also good to segment your waterfall chains by the country that you’re serving the ads too. For example, Casale Media should have a passback for Canadian traffic and another for US traffic.
You should choose ad networks that have the ability to set up CPM minimums to put in your passback strategy. If the ad network doesn’t have this ability, don’t include it in your passback strategy. It is also important to individually set up and tag passbacks of each ad network. For example, Chitika should not have the same initial passbacks as Criteo.
If you set this up properly, then you’ll be able to track exactly how many passbacks make it through from each ad network. Then you can measure the ad impression discrepancy that the ad networks report that they passback. This is very important! Ad networks improperly setup passbacks all the time or the reporting has faults. It is crucial that you measure this regularly. Otherwise, you might be missing on a massive percentage of your ad impressions.
Overall, if you’re not using a premium ad network that doesn’t support third-party passbacks, utilize a short string waterfall chain strategy. Within this chain, it is crucial that you measure the passbacks that come out of each ad network. Once you have set this strategy up, you will no longer have nightmares about lost passbacks and ad networks fleecing you for $0 CPMs because you didn’t set a CPM minimum. You truly deserve a good night’s sleep.