5 Keys to a Better Publisher Ad Experience for Readers

webhank // January 15, 2019

Publishers often feel compelled to squeeze visitors for as much ad revenue as possible. Unfortunately, this can lead to a poor ad experience that ends up driving readers away and minimizing engagement. Managing your ad operations is already a delicate act, but when you’re considering your bottom line it’s important to take reader experience into account. Smart planning and implementation can help you make the most of your ad inventory, help you increase readership and engagement, and improve your bottom line. Remember, a good user experience leads to higher conversions, so here are 5 tips you should keep in mind when creating a better ad experience for your readers.

1. More Isn’t Always More

You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again: cluttering your website with advertisements is a great way to annoy readers. Instead of increasing ad units to the point of distraction, focus on maximizing the value of those ad units. We recommend a maximum of five ad placements per page, but determining the optimal number of units is only the beginning. Furthermore, avoid unexpected redirects, which can lead to bounces and displeased readers; avoid disruptive or distracting ads (such as auto-play audio or video) as well, which can drive away otherwise interested audiences.

2. Use Smarter, Better Technology

One of the best ways to maximize the value of your existing ad inventory, and therefore the value of every unique visitor, is through Sovrn Signal. Signal is our proprietary, industry-leading reload technology that reloads ads based on a combination of viewability, user engagement, and time spent on a page. It creates more viewable inventory from your existing ad units, which does more than increase your revenue—because it only shows new, viewable ads, it increases your viewability score as well. It works with waterfall, header bidding, and exchange bidding, and when it’s licensed it can be leveraged across all of your demand partners. Ultimately, Sovrn Signal rewards you for engaged, passionate readers, while giving your audience a better ad experience.

Additionally, if you have long-scroll content, consider incorporating Whitespace ads into your site. This will automatically create and fill ad inventory below the fold, so that you’re still taking advantage of engaged readers—and it’s compatible with Signal, so you can maximize the value of your new inventory.

3. Avoid Cluttered Code

Cluttered or overly complex JavaScript can lead to long page load times, and if your site takes longer than 2-3 seconds to load, you’ll see readers abandon your page before they ever see the content that they came for. Streamline the number of third-party demand tags, ad selling methods (such as header bidding, custom native, or in-feed advertising), and other data-transmitting code you have on a page. The more Javascript you run, the longer your users have to wait for the content they want. This applies to mobile as well—if you’re overwhelming your readers with excess tracking codes, scripts, and ads, you’re probably driving users away. In that case, not only are you failing to maximize user value and reader retention, but you’re actively hurting your revenue potential.

One way to streamline your code is to enable Sovrn Connect. This is a single line of JavaScript that delivers three of our industry-leading products: Signal, Header Complete (our header bidding solution), and our Consent Management Platform. Well-designed scripts such as this result in faster load times and a better user experience. Connect also allows for easier updates to existing ad products and services, and it minimizes implementation headaches—a broken site means no revenue, after all. If you’d like to enable Connect on your site, just let us know.

4. Remember: Content is (Still) King

It sounds basic, but the best way to ensure a great reader experience is still based on giving your readers the content they want. While we can’t tell you how best to do that, make sure you’re not sacrificing quality content for the sake of more ad inventory.

5. Test, Test, Test

There’s no one solution for a perfect user experience. Remember that you can keep making changes to your ad operations, and that finding the ideal balance may take some time. In addition to testing ad placements, test page layouts and features, and make sure you’re keeping up to date.

One of the best ways to do this is through a robust analytics service. For example, Sovrn Header Bidding Analytics gives you a full picture of all of your header bidding data on a single, consolidated dashboard, which makes it easy to investigate revenue swings and make faster, more productive decisions.
If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Consider working with the experts at Sovrn Services. Whether you want help managing your ad operations or tips for optimizing your Google Ad Manager server, our experienced professionals will work with you to give you the help you need.

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