For publishers online, more ads on the page have meant more revenue. And over the years, some have taken this approach quite literally, stuffing pages with every ad unit that would fit, from pop ups to video ads that follow the user down the page.
Now, whether due to the attempts of search engines that have tried to force them to declutter, or just a response by those continuing to evaluate their ad strategies, many publishers are re-thinking their ad approach.
They are analyzing the value their ad mix provides to its readers.
Some are succeeding and cashing in on more revenue, most spending months to find the right combination between user experience and advertising. To do that, they are testing different ad units, placements and vendors.
Most are finding there is no exact science, but rather success is a balance of a few things, specifically:
Focusing on ads that are most engaging.
Over a period of a year, online publisher LittleThings stripped its site of clickbait-heavy content recommendation ads, interstitials and autoplay video ads. Instead, it uses display, user-initiated video and contextually relevant native content advertising.
By cutting disruptive ads, focusing on those with contextual relevance, and reducing overall ad clutter, the company saw both its ad revenue and user engagement increase: revenue grew 36%. More publishers are seeing a correlation between context and ad revenue.
This is especially important in segments such as financial services and b2b technology, in which the reader places a high expectation on the value of all of the site's content.
Aligning the business opportunity with your customers values
Content publishers have gone so far to one side of the spectrum in finding ways to make money from casual website visitors, their core users are rebelling against these efforts by using ad-blocking software.
One of the reasons why some publishers are more successful at achieving a dramatic ROI increase in a redesign is because they narrowed their focus on the unique experience their customers expect e.g, more context, better relevance and less disruptive.
Most publishers know the basic facts of who their users are, but lack an understanding of why they visit. What is that implied contract between them and the publisher? Understanding the expectation of that user in both content and ads will help publishers distinguish between which ads will work the best with their customers.
Cutting your preload time
Studies have shown that websites that load in more than five seconds have bounce rates 2x higher than a website that loads in one second. Website load times are a double-edged sword for publishers. Ads are needed for revenue, but they can also hurt it.
For example, a recent Google+ App study found that when users were presented with an interstitial or prestitial ad, which can increase pre-load time by two seconds or more, 69% of visitors abandoned the page entirely, costing publishers money.
Publishers can cut their page load times and abandonment using a number of techniques: employing a CMS that uses caching, getting rid of interruptive ads like interstitials and reducing image sizes.