HowStuffWorks.com Programmatic Ad Deep Dive

Ad Optimization
Last updated: May 11, 2020 | by Kean Graham
HowStuffWorks programmatic deep dive

This post was most recently updated on May 11th, 2020

HowStuffWorks 1

#1: Each ad should be consistent and labeled with “Advertisement.” HowStuffWorks.com is risking to get banned by Google AdSense / Ad Exchange for ad placement violations. All it would take is an influx of accidental clicks.

HowStuffWorks podcast selection

#2: This organic content widget is in prime potential ad real estate. While this is not a bad strategy because it promotes good user experience and boosts engagement via another social platform, it’s important for the decision makers to know the opportunity cost of this space. To do this, the HowStuffWorks should run an A/B test:

A: Current page with the organic sound content widget
B: A DFP flex ad unit (728×90, 300×250, 970×250, 970×90)

The publisher should measure the page and session RPMs rather than just the ad RPM of that one ad unit. Adding a new ad unit affects the ad RPMs of the other ad units and the average pages per session. Therefore, running a more holistic measure such as the page and session RPMs will give HowStuffWorks an idea of how much ad revenue they are forfeiting by running this widget instead.

HowStuffWorks ad slot selection

#3: This ad placement has the full width of the column available but is only running a 728×90. Instead, HowStuffWorks.com should be running a DFP flex ad unit that includes these ad sizes: 728×90, 300×250, 970×250, 970×90. That will enable more advertiser demand and will increase ad RPMs for that particular ad placement.

HowStuffWorks page request

#4: Great job using key-value pairs to your advantage HowStuffWorks! Keyword (KW) is an excellent use of key-value pairs to make the targeting even more granular on-site. This is quite useful for offering something unique to direct advertisers and can be very useful for programmatic ad optimization.

headerbid expert

#5: Although it is known that the HeaderBid Expert app timing stats are inaccurate, these time stats look quite fast. The sample size is small, but on the first inspection, it appears that HowStuffWorks has done a great job on setting up their site, DFP, and header bidding in an efficient way while having strong page performance.

This app detects these ad networks via live code that also comes from managed demand. While there may be more ad networks running within DFP, we recommend running the following ad networks:

  • Facebook Audience Network
  • Sovrn
  • Media.net 
  • Pubmatic
  • Rhythm One
  • Defy Media

code selection

#6: This is an excellent example of a well-organized DFP setup and logical name convention. Well done HowStuffWorks.com!

#7: Refresh ads can be a good source of additional revenue but need to be communicated to all demand partners, or there could be trouble. Make sure to declare all AdX ad tags that get refreshed and to let each ad rep know. We have seen ad networks revoke ad revenues because their advertisers refuse to pay for refresh ads.

In closing

As with our previous programmatic ad deep dives, this inspection serves as a reminder to all publishers that most of the time there is room for improvements in ad performance and revenue generation.

If you’d like a similar programmatic inspection done on your website property be sure to sign up for a free consultation here.

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