Google Adsense is a wonderful tool for bloggers of all sizes who want to make money from their websites with display advertising. Adsense offers a user-friendly interface that makes online advertising accessible to everyone. But with millions of bloggers using Google Adsense, there is one mistake I see bloggers making time and time again when they are setting up their ads.
Here’s the #1 Google AdSense Mistake…
The #1 Google AdSense mistake made by bloggers is using AdSense alone.
To understand why this is such a no-no, let’s talk a little bit about AdSense’s strengths and weaknesses. Then we will get into the solution.
100% Fill Rate
Every time a reader lands on your website, a request for an advertisement is sent to the advertisers plugged into Google’s ad exchange. Those advertisers bid for the chance to show their ad to that reader, and the winning bidder then returns their advertisement back to your webpage – all within milliseconds. No matter how many ad requests you fire off to AdSense, they will always send back an ad creative. In ad tech, this is called a “max fill” solution. Not all ad partners are maximum fill (for various reasons that we will get into shortly).
Many websites desire a 100% fill partner because they are able to monetize every single reader that visits their site, maximizing the revenue from their ads.
Adsense Fill Rate & Ad Quality
Because AdSense must serve an impression no matter what (or “fill” an ad when a request is fired) they have to have a massive inventory of ads ready to go. It’s simple supply and demand. But in this case, the supply is extraordinary; it’s basically all the traffic on the internet. There is just no way to serve relevant, high quality advertisements for every single request. Thus, AdSense has a very mixed bag of ads, including text-only advertisements that are not-so pleasing to the eye.
Those text ads and low-tier ads also come with a very low price tag, so while your site might have a 100% fill rate, the CPMs for your advertisements are likely very low. High Fill and low CPM means moderate to low overall revenue yield.
The Fix: Ad Stack Strategy
Now, I am not suggesting that you stop using Google Adsense. What I am recommending is a new approach called an “ad stack” or a “partner waterfall”. In an ad stack, multiple advertising partners are essentially queued up in a line to bid on each ad request. The partner at the top of your ad stack has first dibs, and if they are unable to fill an advertisement, they pass back their turn to the next partner in line.
There is a specific strategy used to select and arrange partners in your ad stack in order to make the most money. The partner offering the highest CPM – regardless of their fill rate – should always be at the stop of your stack. Google AdSense is most commonly used as a “backfill” partner. If all of the partners with the highest CPMs get their shot and are unable to send back an advertisement for your site, AdSense sends through one of their advertisements to make sure the request doesn’t go un-monetized.
This ad stack strategy is a highly effective way to increase your overall advertising revenue by bringing in high CPM advertising partners like Sovrn while keeping fill rate high.
Start With One New Partner
Now, building an ad stack can be like opening a big can of worms. Once you add your first new partner to complement AdSense, why stop there? I always recommend starting with just one or two partners in your ad stack so that management does not become a burden. At first, you want to be able to easily move partners and price floors around to optimize your revenue. Eventually, based on your website traffic and your yield outcomes, you might find that it is economically smart to keep adding partners and move your ad stack into an ad server like Google DoubleClick for Publishers.
Start Building Your Ad Stack
If you have been using Google AdSense for a little while and are ready to step on the gas a little bit, it’s time for an ad stack. Sovrn can help: we offer high CPM advertisements from thousands of premium advertisers and top brands. You can easily create your new Sovrn ads and set up your passbacks to AdSense right inside of our ad platform, Meridian.