At PageFair we aim to help websites survive the explosive growth of adblocking. One of the first features we built was the ability to show an appeal to your adblockers, asking them to re-enable your ads or to make a small donation. PageFair appeals have run on hundreds of websites, and we’re disappointed to say that they have not proven effective at changing people’s behavior.
We ran 576 appeals on 220 different websites.
Only 0.33% of adblockers that were shown an appeal added an adblock exception
Of those 0.33%, one-third eventually removed the exception.
Only 3 users per million who were given the option to make a donation did so. This represents less than $0.01 CPM.
Using this appeals method, publishers were only earning $10 per million visitors.
This is just 1/25th the revenue that a publisher could earn from Google Adsense.
The bottom line is that donations simply cannot replace the revenue from traditional digital advertising. In response, we’ve introduced a new product in order to find a more sustainable medium between publishers and their visitors.
Introducing PageFair Ads
PageFair Ads is an “acceptable advertising” service, which means that our ads have been whitelisted by the Adblock Plus community and will be shown by default to most users of that plugin. We believe the acceptable advertising initiative reflects the position of the vast majority of adblockers, and we have embraced it wholeheartedly. With PageFair Ads you will be able to display static non-animated advertising to your adblocking audience. We will initially support text advertising only, but in time we plan to permit other acceptable advertising formats. You will be able to run direct-sold and house campaigns, and also enable the display of network ads from our partners.
We aim to make acceptable ads easier to adopt and we believe that PageFair ads is just the first step in a long road to find a realistic solution to help keep the internet free.
If you’d like to learn more about our new service, please contact us here.
While documenting the journey of new publishers and the motivation for intrusive advertising, we discovered that getting started with online advertising can be challenging. We’ve created this table to help small publishers choose an ad network that’s right for them, depending on their needs and the type of site they run. To start, simply choose the description in the first column that best describes your site. Each description is broad in order to encompass a large spectrum of websites. While browsing the columns, take note of what is important to you as a publisher- such as minimum payout amount or where in the world your audience is. Suggested ad networks are listed in the far right column.
What is an Ad Network?
Simply put, an ad network is a company that connects advertisers to web sites that want to host advertisements. A key function of an ad network is to aggregate ad space from publishers and to match it with advertiser demand. In order to determine the most practical network for each publisher, we examined 7 key factors:
Type of Site (of publisher)- For simplicity reasons, we’ve categorized publisher websites into 6 broad categories.
Estimated CPM- The estimated CPM or cost per thousand ads shown is an indication of the potential revenue from an ad network. The value can vary depending on many factors, such as geography and site content. We’ve derived CPMs for each network in order to make them comparable.
Types of Ads- The main types of ads offered by each ad network. Most have additional types not listed.
Minimum Payout Amount- Minimum amount of earned ad revenue required for publishers to receive payment from the ad network.
Payout Method- Methods by which publishers can receive their earned ad revenue.
Geo-coverage- Restrictions or optimal locations for website audiences.
Targeting Type- An overview of how the ad network will target visitors with ads. This has a large effect on how suitable an ad network is for different types of sites.
We developed 5 broad website personas while researching where different types of ad networks were appropriate. They are:
General – Sites such as a personal blog or business.
Specific Focus- Sites that have a specific niche audience or topic, for example a blog dedicated to social media marketing.
High-value product focus- Sites that focus on topics or products of high value, for example professional camera equipment.
User-base in big cities- Sites with visitors from distinguishable geographical clusters, for example a site about Manhattan pizza places.
Product/Service Review sites- Sites where product/service reviews are likely to appear in search results, such as movie review sites.
Long-form Content- Sites that have lengthy articles over 500 words, for example a news or review site.
While your site may not fall directly into one of these categories, you should get a better sense of how different ad networks will cater to your needs.
The information in the table is drawn from a variety of sources. Some information- such as types of ads, minimum payout amounts and payment methods- was obtained from the FAQ pages of each ad network. Information such as estimated CPM and targeting type were informed by knowledge shared on popular forums around advertising and monetization. We also contacted each ad network to request official information about their services.
Not every ad network prices ads on a simple CPM basis. In order to keep our units of measure consistent across the table we calculated an eCPM for each ad network. You can read more about how these calculations here.
We hope that this information will equip publishers to make better choices about the right ad network to suit their needs. If you have been through this process we would love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment or contact us here.
While documenting the journey of first-time publishers, we uncovered that comparing pricing models can be a bit difficult. This post gives a brief overview of each pricing model and explains how to compare their revenue potential.
CPM – payment when an ad is seen
CPM (cost per mille or thousand impressions) is the granddaddy of them all- a pricing model that existed long before the advent of the internet. Under this pricing model the publisher is paid every time a website visitor sees an ad. It’s commonly used where an advertiser wants a branding campaign; the focus is on raising consumer awareness of a company or product rather than persuading them to buy right now.
A nice easy example to start with: a website that charges a CPM of $5 will earn $5 for every 1,000 ads that its visitors see.
CPC – payment when an ad is clicked
The interactive nature of websites allows advertisers to be more discerning about when they pay. Since the early days of the internet the ‘click’ has been used as a measure of ad effectiveness, as it indicates their interest in a product or service. The percentage of website visitors who see an ad and click it is referred to as the click-through-rate or CTR and the website is paid a cost per click (CPC) for each click on an ad. Given the CPC of an ad and its CTR we can work our way back to a CPM (sometimes referred to as an estimated CPM or eCPM). This is useful if you want to compare the performance of ad networks that use different pricing models.
eCPM = CPC * CTR * 1,000 (because it relates to 1,000 ads)
For example, a website that charges a CPC of $2.50 where 15 in every 10,000 ads are clicked (CTR of 0.0015) will have an eCPM of $3.75
2.50 * 0.0015 * 1,000 = $3.75
CPA – payment when an action is carried out
Pricing models have moved beyond the click, and it is now common for the publisher to pay a cost per user action (CPA). Affiliate advertising is a familiar application of this pricing model: the website is only paid when a website visitor clicks through an ad and completes a purchase on the advertiser’s site. Other common CPA actions include signing up to a mailing list, or a trial account with a service.
In comparison to CPC the CPA pricing model is another degree of separation away from CPM. We first estimate a CPC using the CPA and a conversion rate from clicks to actions which we call the Action Rate (AR). The AR is the percentage of visitors to the advertiser’s site who go on to complete the Action.
eCPC = CPA * AR
For example consider an advertiser who pays $10 per action (CPA) and 10% of visitors carry out the action (AR). This equates the an estimated cost per click of $1.
10 * 0.1 = $1
We can take this eCPC and convert it to an eCPM the same way as we did above. Let’s assume the same rate of 15 in every 10,000 visitors clicks on the ad (CTR 0.0015). This yields an eCPM of $1.50
1.00 * 0.0015 * 1,000 = $1.50
CPM V CPC V CPA
Each of these pricing models is appropriate in different circumstances, and one is not necessarily better than the others. The trick is to be able to compare them fairly when you’re choosing an ad network for your site; hopefully this helps!
In our last article we examined the vicious circle that drives ever more intrusive advertising. In this article we begin the search for a virtuous circle; a way for publishers to battle the spread of bad ads. To begin to define this virtuous circle we must understand how people choose the ads that appear on their website.
Meet “Bob the Website Builder”: he loves to create content about home-page improvements. It occurs to him that he has pretty good traffic to his website and that he could make some money from advertising to pay his hosting costs. But Bob is a busy guy and he doesn’t have a lot of time to put into an advertising strategy- he simply wants to set up the ads and let them run without any more maintenance required on his part.
Where To Begin?
A simple Google search of “how to put ads on your website” reveals some expected paid results up top: Google Adsense- a popular ad solution that targets users based on their profile and interests, Twitter Ads and Adroll (another popular advertising service) all make up the top 5. These are all great resources to help install an ad solution, but they aren’t really a place for Bob to learn about what options are available to him. When he gets to the organic results he finds another technical guide to installing Adsense and two WikiHows- one of which explains an Amazon ad solution while the other highlights a few other ad solutions Bob can use.
Bob dives in to learn about these options, but right away two things worry him. He’s read about contextual advertising- advertising on a website that is relevant to the page’s content- but he doesn’t have the thousands of pageviews per day needed to make this method effective. His second concern is the ads themselves. It’s considered “taking a risk” to work with some of these contextual ad solutions, due to the nature of the ads they show- such as gambling or pornography. Neither of these sound like suitable options to Bob. He’s learned a little about some particular solutions, but he has yet to find comparisons of these solutions to figure out which would best suit his site and audience.
Back To the Drawing Board
In the first search results Bob noticed another phrase that seems relevant, so he searches for “how to monetize your website”.
The first paid result Bob sees is an ad solution called Viglink. They provide affiliate advertising- site owners get paid when someone clicks through an ad on their site and buys something. Viglink also provides information for online publishers in blogs and forums, that show techniques other websites use to drive traffic and increase revenue. He doesn’t know if affiliate links are the right way to go and he moves on to some other articles. The organic results reveals 3 great advertising resources- A Guide To Blog Monetization, a Top 10 Monetization List, and a “4 Step” affiliate marketing article from Mashable. Each quickly dives into affiliate marketing solutions. After reading them Bob thinks this solution won’t work until he can bring in a specific audience that’s interested in high value products and services.
Learning The Basics
While these guides provide lots of advice Bob is still not familiar with some of the terms they use, such as the different ways to get paid. For example some solutions pay per thousand ads that his site visitors see (CPM), but others only pay when a visitor actually clicks on an ad (CPC) or when they buy something (Affiliate). The concepts themselves are easy enough for Bob to understand, but it’s difficult to find consistent information on which pays more. One site states the average CPM is anywhere from $1.95 to $8.95 while another claims a much lower rate of $0.24. Bob realizes he may have to test out multiple options to figure out what drives the most revenue.
“Its impossible to find real-world comparisons of ad revenue from different ad solutions” Tweet
So what has Bob learned?
There’s still a little uncertainty, but Bob decides that he’s learned enough to make an educated decision. He needs to have the right kind of visitors for affiliate marketing, and a lot of traffic for contextual advertising. In the end, he chooses to use Google Adsense. This ad solution appeals to Bob because it applies to almost all types of websites and will give him a chance to sell some really valuable ads that target specific user interests.
Looking Towards The Future
Google’s Adsense makes a lot of sense for Bob. The most important thing to him is that the solution doesn’t require a lot of work to install and operate. Adsense is a well-known and respected advertising solution, but there’s no guarantee that his visitors won’t see intrusive ads. On the positive side Adsense doesn’t allow ads to obscure content and they are clearly labeled so that they cannot be mistaken for website content. On the downside, however, animated ads with sound are allowed and can be intrusive to website visitors.
The choice to give up control of their ad space leaves website owners like Bob in a vulnerable position: they do not control the ads that appear on their website and this can lead to low-quality ads appearing. Bob wouldn’t even be aware of this issue unless his visitors complained. With so much conflicting information on which ad network to use, it’s difficult for publishers like Bob to know where to begin.
In a future article we’ll look at what happens if Bob doesn’t see positive ad revenue; there are other ad solutions out there that may be more suitable, and even a risk he may try more aggressive or underhand tactics to drive ad revenue.
If you’d like to share a story about your journey towards website monetization, please contact us.
Google continues to dominate online advertising, and Facebook delays a new ad tactic. The growing problem of online ad fraud is a hot topic at this year’s annual IAB meeting. Here’s a list of what publishers need to know this week in advertising.
Google Makes Push For Brand Dollars With Advertiser-Driven Private Exchanges
“Direct-response advertisers have largely embraced programmatic buying, where ad dollars are matched with impressions in an auction-based real-time environment. Brand advertisers? Not so much. Google is hoping to change that…”
Facebook Auto-Play Video Ads May Not Come Until This Summer
“If you’re dreading the launch of auto-play video ads in your Facebook News Feed, here’s some good news: Facebook is taking its time rolling them out. They may not appear in your feed until as late as this summer, sources say.”
“The digital media’s ongoing advertising fraud problem was the major topic of conversation during this year’s IAB Annual Meeting in Palm Springs, Calif. Both onstage and off, speakers and attendees said it is Priority No. 1.”
Bidtellect Bakes Automated Ads Into Native Advertising
“Skeptics say that native advertising requires too much customization to benefit from automated ad systems. But don’t tell that to Bidtellect — one of several start-ups trying to meld programmatic with native — and Lon Otremba, its new CEO.”
“Mozlla is embracing advertising with sponsored content in its Web browser and potentially within a new editorial initiative it calls Voices. The developer of Firefox announced that it would sell sponsored positions within its desktop browser.”
There is a complex, vicious circle driving advertising to ever-more annoying extremes, and driving people to block ads. The popups of the early 2000’s have been replaced by interstitials, prerolls, and noisy animations. If there’s innovation in the ad industry it’s in inventing ever-more distracting forms of web advertising.
It’s tempting to simply blame aggressive advertisers, but the reality is that they’re reacting to a new trend in how people find and consume content. Sensationalist headlines spread virally through social networks, driving hordes of visitors to websites; visitors who feel no loyalty to a website they will probably never visit again. Aggressive advertising simply maximizes the revenue from this new type of visitor.
For our own good we need to understand and break this cycle of Junk Content chasing Junk Traffic targeted by Junk Advertising.
As the new year begins, innovations in technology will change the way publishers and advertisers target and interact with customers. We’ve gathered the best ad news and expert advice regarding the newest trends.
5 Mobile Ad Trends to Watch in 2014
“Mobile ad platform vendor Opera Mediaworks released its annual roundup of mobile ad trends. As we all seem to be moving into a mobile world–check the latest downgrading of PC commercial fortunes–and advertising continues to shift to digital platforms, getting a sense of where things are going is a good idea for anyone in business.”
“Major innovations and tech sea-changes were few and far between in 2013. Unfortunately, what usually follows major advancements are refinements. These days, innovation tends to happen on a nano-scale, which means most people cannot see or experience that evolution.”
3 Online Advertising Trends to Watch Out for in 2014
“End-of-year predictions are as much a holiday season staple as fruit cake and champagne. That said, champagne isn’t the only thing that’s been bubbly lately. Many of the building trends in digital advertising over the last few years have been crossing into the mainstream: real time bidding, social media as a must-have channel, online video, and of course mobile.”
“Yahoo continued its long tradition of copycatting its competitors’ advertising strategies by announcing Wednesday the launch of Yahoo Image Ads, “native” photo ads that will appear within Yahoo slideshows. Although late to native image ads, Yahoo is making it harder for its users to skip those ads.”
YouTube pre-roll ads are driving users to install adblocking software, which in turn is having devastating effects on independent publishers. Google, who last year earned 97% of their revenue from online advertising (over $32 billion) has a product that drives people to block ads. Crazy, right? While Google may be able to reduce the impact of adblocking, many smaller publishers shut down or set up premium subscriptions to make up for lost ad revenue.
But according to AdBlock users, traditional advertising is not the problem- it’s intrusive advertising that they can’t stand. More-so, they’re fed up with pre-roll YouTube ads, especially when the video they’re trying to watch isn’t much longer than the ad itself. In a recent lively discussion on Reddit, these pre-roll ads were cited as the most frequent motivation for installing adblock. One Reddit user commented:
Yep, Youtube is what killed it for me too. I didn’t mind when I could skip after 5 seconds but now we get stuck watching the full thing.”
How Publishers Hope to Close the Mobile Revenue Gap
“Mobile is rising fast as a traffic source, with publishers reporting anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of their overall traffic coming from mobile. The problem is mobile ad rates are still a fraction of what they are for desktop.”
PageFair will be attending Ad:Tech New York- a digital marketing event on November 6th and 7th. Please feel free to join us in conversation about advertising, adblocking, and what we have in store for the future.
Some of the keynote speakers will include Sheryl Connelly of Ford Motor Company, Pete Blackshaw of Nestlé, and Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. A list of exhibiting companies can be found here.
If you’d like to connect while we are in NYC, please contact us on Twitter or through our contact form.
It’s been 228 days since Destructoid blew the lid on adblocking. We caught up with editor Niero Gonzalez to see what the fallout has been.
Online publishers are facing difficult times. Consumers are fighting back against intrusive ads, while publishers are doing everything they can to maintain ad revenue. Advances in technology, such as ad blocking software and limitations or alternatives to third party cookies are creating a difficult situation that many publishers fear can only end badly. Many forget that in the middle of this conflict are those who are really paying the price.
Online advertising continues to hit double digit growth, as new challenges arise from controversy over third-party cookies. The value of ad impressions and clicks are called into question as middlemen are gaming the system. Here are some more of the things we learned this week.
IAB Study: Online Ad Revenue Continues Double-Digit Growth Report shows explosive mobile growth
“Here’s some good news for the digital media industry: revenue from online advertising saw double-digit growth in the first six months of 2013, compared to the same period last year, according to the IAB’s Internet Advertising Revenue Report, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.”
We’re often asked how our adblock detection script works its magic: how do we detect that someone is blocking ads? Most people expect us to guard this secret closely, but the truth is we use an approach that’s widely discussed online. We observe what happens when a web page loads and detect the effects of adblocking plugins.
A Google Cookie Replacement Could Upend Online Advertising
“Publishers and others worried about the decline of cookies, the web’s foundational technology for targeting display advertising, may welcome an effort by Google to come up with a replacement. But such a move would also drastically grow the search giant’s grasp on the industry.”
“Web data, we’re told, is the new oil. There’s gushers of it out there, and it’s changing media. Thanks mainly cookies, autotomotive advertisers reach only those people in the market for a new car; insurance providers market to would-be homebuyers; and dog food manufacturers can target only those with pooches.”
In 1984 Stewart Brand famously said to Steve Wozniak that “information wants to be free”. Nearly 30 years later, 2.4 billion people are enjoying a lot of “free” information online. Unfortunately, those who create this valuable content are still searching for ways to be properly paid.
Last week Adblock, a popular adblocking extension, announced the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to help finance internet ads. You didn’t misunderstand: Adblockers are asking for our help to purchase online advertisements. The extension that vows to fight the online ad industry is now using the same system to spread their message. Adblock acknowledges that the plan is slightly unusual, while others have commented that it’s just plain hypocritical.
We’re pleased to announce our 2013 report[pdf] on the state of adblocking. This report has been compiled from anonymous data analysed from hundreds of PageFair client sites over the course of the last year.
Adblocking is threatening the business model of online publishers. In this report we present new data demonstrating that adblock is being rapidly adopted by consumers, and is becoming mainstream. Based on measurements taken from hundreds of websites over 11 months, we show that up to 30% of web visitors are blocking ads, and that the number of adblocking users is growing at an astonishing 43% per year.
Not long after Google controversially removed the Adblock Plus app from their Play Store, they paid the very same company to include their ads on the Acceptable Advertising whitelist- a list of ads Adblock Plus has deemed acceptable for its users to view. The move has raised serious questions about the approval process for acceptable ads, but also highlights the threat presented by ad blocking.
As a publisher, you face diminishing returns as you try to optimize your ad revenue. The best way is to drive more traffic, but that’s easier said than done. As you’re about to learn, finding new visitors may not be necessary. The truth is that up to 50% of your ad impressions are being lost. These are the ad blockers, and they’re invisible to your ad server. We’re here to teach you how to reach them.
Online advertising is hitting a crisis point. Many websites are discovering that nearly half of their visitors are blocking ads, deeply cutting into the revenues they depend on for survival. As a web publisher, it’s time to start paying attention to why end users are flocking towards adblocking tools like AdBlockPlus.
People install adblocking tools out of frustration. Visitors come to your site to enjoy your content, not your ads. Ads that are heavily animated or play sounds get in their way, and are the number one reason people use AdBlockPlus. Even worse are ads that directly intrude on the content, such as interstitials, pre-rolls and popouts. If you show these kinds of ads, you will drive some of your visitors to install adblock. It’s hard to blame end users for installing adblockers, when it significantly improves their online experience. The question is, as a publisher, is there anything you can do to staunch the flow?
The leading adblocking plugin, AdBlockPlus, has proposed a bold solution: Acceptable Advertising. They are aiming to spare their users from the visual onslaught of hideous ads, while permitting websites to continue to monetize through advertising.
So what is acceptable advertising? It’s a set of simple rules about non-intrusive display advertising. Compliance is judged by Eyeo, the company behind AdBlockPlus. If your ads are compliant, they will add you to a whitelist, which means that users of AdBlockPlus will see your ads by default. If you are a reasonably profitable company, Eyeo may seek a fee for whitelisting you. Here’s a quick rundown on what they look for:
Wow, what a week. Niero Gonzalez over at Destructoid posted a terrific article on how adblocking is affecting their business, including how they used our service to help diagnose the problem.
Where were you when your favorite gaming site died? Destructoid
While we were at a team member’s bachelor party on Saturday, the adblocking debate re-ignited, appearing on Reddit, HackerNews and Slashdot. Sunday’s hangover was quickly forgotten as we worked hard to scale up our server infrastructure to cope with the sudden demand, with some of the biggest websites in the world signing up to the service. With the crisis under control, we want to take an opportunity to add some more data to the conversation.
We want to help websites survive. We think that what makes the web special is that independent publishers like Destructoid can exist and create quality content that can be enjoyed by the entire world. The ability of these websites to put food on the table is being eroded, as adblock plugins steadily grow in popularity year by year. This trend means fewer quality websites, with more and more small companies and independent websites going out of business. We are here to help reverse this trend, whether that means helping to deliver ads, facilitating donations, micropayments or something else entirely. We also intend to solve this growing problem in a way that is acceptable to website visitors.