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How Publishers Can Increase Revenue by Creating a Great Ad Experience in 2022


February 21, 2022


The perception and tolerance of digital advertising is changing. Unfortunately, many online users feel that this technology has become too intrusive. Global Web Index reported that 47% of users globally use an ad-blocker because of negative ad experiences. This instantly removes nearly half of the ad revenue a publisher could be generating. These negative experiences are in part caused by the unfortunate practice of some digital advertisers who serve spammy and non-relevant content. But their uptake is also fueled by concerns over data privacy.

But hope is not lost! Next year, digital will lead as the largest global advertising medium, making the market more competitive than ever. And while some people show loyalty to brands, an average of 87% of consumers shop around for the best products and lowest prices. For publishers, this means more time spent online browsing while being served ads that increase your ad revenue. 

Optimizing the ad experience by building better relationships becomes increasingly important for publishers to compete in these digital waters. In this post, we’ll share what metrics you need to consider when mapping your digital advertising strategy and five ways to improve the ad experience to secure return visitors and increase your ad revenue.

The Impact Of Trade Off Metrics

In the earlier days of programmatic, it was thought that increasing the number of ad spots available and impressions served to users is the answer to improving ad revenue. Over time however, we’ve learned that there are positives and negatives to this approach.

While upping impressions may increase your ad revenue per user, your engagement could drop, questioning ad effectiveness. If users think you show them too many ads, whether repetitive or intrusive, they could choose not to engage with you again.

The journey to creating a great ad experience should consider the number of ads shown and other features that we’ll outline in this blog.

5 ways to get return visitors and increase ad revenue by improving the ad experience

One of the most difficult challenges a publisher faces is converting first time users into returning visitors. Returning visitors can account for around 30% of traffic and significantly indicate how successful your marketing campaigns are and how good your user experience is. 

We know that intrusive advertising negatively affects the user experience and reduces the chance that they'll return to your website. Intrusive ads are not only 'bad’ ads (ads that are not relevant or contain content that could negatively impact your brand reputation) but also ones that interrupt or take over the experience users expect. Any negative experience you provide will ultimately impact your revenue.

The good news is that despite the rise of ad blockers indicating a dislike for digital advertising, many consumers would prefer to filter ads they don't want to see. So if you're going to increase your advertising revenue, you must serve highly relevant ads in a high-quality environment. 

Here are five things that can do to improve the user experience of first-time users and convert them into returning visitors:

1. Be strategic with your use of ad refreshing

Ad refreshing (or simply ad refresh) is a technique publishers use to increase the number of ad impressions served to a user during a session by replacing the current ad with a different one. Ad sets are refreshed using preset triggers based on time spent on a page or user actions such as scrolling, refreshing a page, or clicking a call-to-action (CTA). The ultimate goal of this is to increase ad revenue.

Because a publisher's revenue is linked to the number of impressions served, the temptation for publishers is to hold users' attention long enough that they can rotate through numerous ads. However, this can negatively impact CPMs and viewability, driving down your revenue. Refreshing ads in short intervals also leads to low-quality impressions that advertisers might not want to bid on. Further, reducing your pool of advertisers wanting to bid on your impressions increases the chances that the ads served will not be as relevant to users or as high-quality, which could damage your brand's reputation. In terms of user experience, a high ad turnover might result in shorter sessions, again damaging your revenue.

The answer to this dilemma? Be strategic with your use of ad refresh. Test a range of triggers, roll it out on pages with highly engaging content, and be sure to measure fill rates and viewability before and after refreshes. When used appropriately, ad refresh has the power to increase ad revenue without compromising user experience or ad viewability.

2. Diligently monitor site speed

1 in 4 visitors would abandon websites that take more than 4 seconds to load, and 46% of users don’t return to those websites. For publishers, the number of visitors you get to your site directly correlates to your ad revenue. Typically speaking, the higher your traffic, the higher your income. But in the race to deliver increased value to their readers, publishers who add more and more features to their websites, including more ad sets, are compromising on performance. Slower load times and site speeds severely affect your ability to drive high traffic volumes to your website.

For example, digital sports publisher, GiveMeSports, boosted direct traffic by 63% year on year after reducing its page load speed to between one and five seconds. As part of decluttering their website, they reduced the number of ads shown on a page from an average of eleven down to four. The reduction in the number of impressions available may seem less optimal to publishers at first glance. In this scenario, the boost of revenue through increased traffic (and likely session time as well) due to reduction in load time far outweighs the loss of revenue from reducing the number of ad slots available.

3. Test the number of ad slots - more is not always better

As we saw above, reducing the number of ad slots improves page load speed, increasing your traffic and session times.In addition to enhancing performance and user experience, there are other benefits to experimenting with the number of ad slots placed on your website.

Thinking back to the trade-off metrics, increasing the number of ads slots can increase ad revenue per user but reduce engagement. It’s your job to find the sweet spot, which will differ for every website. The way to find the optimal number of ad slots for your website is by testing.

Through A/B testing you can experiment with different ad types, placements, sizes, and more. You can even experiment with time of day and traffic sources to ensure you’re maximizing your revenue while creating a user experience that keeps them coming back.

4. Pop ups: friend or foe?

To pop up, or not pop up, that is the question! The truth is, pop-ups and interstitials do work, with an average 3.09% conversion rate. Not bad. Having said that, 73% of online browsers said they dislike online pop-ups, making it the most disliked ad type. So it’s clear that this advertising method needs consideration, as there are both positives and negatives to using pop-ups and interstitials.



Overall, you need to ask yourself if the use of pop-ups and interstitials is the right choice for your website. There is no correct answer, and testing will provide data on how they affect your leads, bounce rates and reputation. But if you decide to use them, use them judiciously. Make sure that content is relevant to the user and adds value to their visit. To improve accessibility, disable them for mobile and make them easy to close. Remember, your goal as a publisher is to increase traffic, session time, and return visitors. If pop-ups and interstitials inhibit this, it’s time to re-think or remove them. 

5. Load videos with caution

How often do you browse the internet at night and get served a video ad that blasts sound as soon as you land on the webpage? It’s frustrating. In a study by Revjet, 100% of respondents reported that they do not find value in watching video ads if they don’t have to and will always skip when given the opportunity.

Thinking back to what we mentioned earlier about intrusive ads, videos that play automatically on page load with the volume on are a sure-fire way to annoy audiences who want the information they’ve searched for. Doing so can lead to high bounce rates and low conversion rates, which are never good.

Instead, set videos to click to play and/or load videos without sound so that users can decide if and how they want to interact with them. This minimally invasive approach builds trust between publishers and their audience by setting the expectation that this is a place internet users can return to and have an enjoyable and valuable experience. The more times a user returns to your site, the more likely they will convert.

Improve your ad experiences with Boltive

Non-compliant, malicious, and offensive ads result in negative user experiences and lost revenue. Boltive gives publishers the tools to protect their reputation and build better relationships with users by identifying and blocking ineffective ads.

Request your free trial today.

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