The digital publishing industry has always been volatile. Extreme changes in short time spans are a given. Websites that seem to define surfing the web are forgotten quickly, and new ones grow at the same dizzying pace. Monetization methods and practices change just as quickly, whether it’s a new ad format, advertising technology, platform, regulation (private or state), or many other changes. For those of us who have been around it for a few years, earning a living in the digital publishing and advertising space sure can feel like riding a rollercoaster.
Despite the setbacks, the overall trend over the past 30 years has been super positive. However, over the past few years, a lot of the changes have been particularly troublesome. And we are not only talking about the current COVID19 outbreak, possible recession, and advertising budget reductions. A duopoly (soon oligopoly?) took over most of the ad dollars, and the social platforms took over user attention. There are also stricter regulations, both private and governmental, and ad tech companies going bankrupt and not paying. So, it is no surprise many private publishers are having a hard time surviving.
But it’s not all bad news. With all of these changes come amazing opportunities, and the publishers who know how to adapt to changing consumer trends and work with the right partners can actually grow a lot in the process. While we have gathered many tips for choosing a monetization partner who can give you peace of mind, it all comes down to respect. A partner who respects your business and your unique needs, who respects users and is in it for the long run, and who respects and understands the industry as a whole.
Respecting your business
- Offers quick payment turnover. Always strive to get faster payments and try to get paid on net 30 terms. Waiting the standard two months, or even three in some cases, can be dangerous. A lot can happen over such long periods of time.
- Takes responsibility for deductions. Some monetization companies have the habit of transferring all the risk to their publishing partners so that when an advertising partner defaults, the losses are deducted from the publisher. Make sure your monetization partner will make a commitment to not do that.
- Insured. Ask to see that your monetization partner is insured. You insure your life, house, car, trip, health- why not your revenue source?
- Transparent. Make sure your partner is fully transparent. Don’t compromise for a partner that gives you a dashboard that only shows you a minimum of details. There is no reason you shouldn’t get a thorough breakdown of exactly what is happening with your ad inventory. You need to be in control over your supply.
- Is known in the industry. When deciding on a partner, prioritize ones that are well known or are part of a trusted brand. Working with an unknown entity will not help you sleep well at night.
Respecting the industry
- Prioritizes user experience. When you let a partner place an ad unit on your site you’re letting them interact directly with your users. Make sure they are a company you can trust with that responsibility. A company that offers a product that will not drive users away from your website. Try to avoid partners that use obtrusive ads, clickbait, or high-latency ads.
- Delivers user safe content. Just like brands look for brand-safe publisher content, publishers deserve user-safe ads.
- Respects user privacy. The 2020s are the decade of respecting user privacy. Whether it is CCPA for California residents, GDPR for Europeans, cookie tracking regulations, or others to come- make sure your monetization partner is fully compliant.
- Optimizes the supply path. Many monetization partners who are in the game for the quick win will go for quantity over quality. That means sending a ton of requests for each ad opportunity to many ad partners. While you might think that this would raise CPMs, it actually lowers them significantly, as the big ad buyers will start blocking those calls very quickly.
- Delivers KPIs advertisers want. Look for a monetization partner that knows how to deliver the inventory that advertisers are looking for. Placements that are high impact and highly viewable.
- Involved in industry initiatives. Use a partner that strives to be at the forefront of adopting initiatives that change the industry for the better. The big advertisers will always prefer those companies. They would rather target a transparent supply chain with ads.txt and sellers.json for example, or have industry stamps like the TAG certified program and others.
- Uses MRC accredited vendors. Find a monetization partner that uses MRC accredited brand safety vendors. It will let you rest assured that you won’t wake up one morning with an ominous email from an SSP telling you that they have removed your account.
Trust But Verify
Testing new ad partners is a move that can teach you a lot and potentially change your whole monetization structure for the better. However, monetization partners have a massive impact on your revenue and users, and in such a volatile industry you need to do your due diligence. Adding a monetization partner that promises only to add an extra buck to your CPM is not enough, what is needed in today’s market is a partner you can trust.