Lessons from arbitrage: Do’s and don’ts for better native ad monetization
Arbitrage publishers are arguably the virtuosos of the digital advertising space. Much like playing poker, these publishers must be in full control of their domains. They need to make sure their ad spend never overtakes their revenue and that they monetize their inventory the best way possible.
Watching arbitrage publishers at work can be awe-inspiring; the level of focus, the way they know the ins and outs of their audience. How they recognize the specific strengths and weaknesses of their domains. So we put together these tips and tricks gleaned from the best.
Learn your domains.
While one content recommendation vendor might perform better than another on one domain – another domain might do much better with a different vendor. The difference can be the topic or the source of visitors. Or, well, anything else. Figure out what works best for each of your domains in terms of traffic source, ad vendors, and more.
When it comes to native ads, the best way to maximize ad revenue is to use multiple vendors for each domain and let the highest bidder show their ad – effectively introducing real-time bidding into the process.
WhizzCo’s data shows that no one vendor wins more than 40% of the time, which means that publishers lose out on 37% of their revenue when going exclusive with any one content recommendation vendor.
Seasons change. So can your widgets.
Just like the weather, ad performance also changes with the seasons. Any of the many variables contributing to your monetization strategy might change. Some are out of one’s control, some within. In any case, you’d want to have enough vendors in your portfolio so that when one starts to fall behind – another one can step in before the domain begins to lose money.
And if we are already at seasonal lulls – make sure to try native in-stream video. A boost from Video engagement might just save your end-of-month balance sheet.
Your domains, your data.
To be able to maximize revenue on every domain, you can’t fly blind. You have the right to be fully informed about everything related to your domains. Make sure you have access to all your data in a standardized way from all your vendors, and always keep your ROI in mind.
Arbitrage publishers keep a close eye on every campaign, to make sure that the budget they invest driving traffic will offer a higher return. Similarly, you should always review the expense side of your budget when measuring your success. Consider breaking down your income by individual content pieces for further takeaways on what earns and what doesn’t on your site.
Negotiate. Always negotiate.
Always make sure that the price you pay to your content rec vendors is fair. Your negotiating power of course improves if you are a high-traffic publisher and/or you have multiple domains.
In any case, you, as their customer, should feel empowered to best represent your needs, talk about your wants. If your requests fall on deaf ears – go to the next partner. There are plenty of fish out there who are ready to let you pocket what you and your domains truly deserve.