How To Increase Google Adsense CPMs?

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Google Adsense is a program is run by Google. The program allows the publishers around the Google network of content sites to offer automatic text, video, images, advertisements to name a few. All of this is directly targetted towards the site content and the audience.

Best ways to increase CPMs

At Sortable, our Customer Success teams spend a big chunk of their time looking for ways to optimize our publishers’ performance, which often comes down to trying to drive up programmatic CPMs. If you’re just starting out on your journey of increasing CPMs, we’ve travelled this road before. We’ve developed a map of sorts, and come up with several reliable strategies to increase your CPMs. And we want to share them with you, because your success is our success.

1. Optimize for viewability

Viewability fundamentally affects CPM performance as a result of a lot of advertiser campaigns making it a requirement. If a campaign from a particular advertiser requires a domain level viewability of at least 60% to bid and your site falls below that, then you simply aren’t eligible for these (typically higher-paying) campaigns. If your site or an ad unit has low viewability, implementing changes to increase this metric should definitely be one of the first actions you take to increase CPMs. Viewability by ad unit contributes to the overall viewability metric for the site and impacts other ad units’ attractiveness to advertisers, so a wholistic approach should be considered. Generally, you should consider removing or improving ad units with less than 30% viewability.

Another option to consider is implementing viewable ad refresh on ad units which have high viewability and are in the viewport for a long enough time. We recommend against tagging all ad units on a site as viewable refresh, because if the ad unit doesn’t actually ever refresh, the ad unit could be penalized from a CPM point of view. There is a point at which increasing visibility doesn’t keep resulting in large CPM increases. For example, increasing viewability from 70% to 90% will not have as much impact as increasing viewability from 40% to 60%.
Below figure displays data for a site partnered with Sortable. It shows a clear correlation between viewability and CPM. Viewability increased from 20% to 60% and CPMs almost doubled!

Ad viewabillity vs. CPM

Adviewability vs cpm

2. Be smart about how you deploy your demand

With the upsurge of header-bidding over the last few years, many publishers and ad-tech providers are focused on increasing demand density. This has led to some pretty crowded stacks loaded with a lot of resellers and bloated ads.txt files. Regardless of your stack size, think critically about where each partner is adding the most value. Is it certain ad sizes or placements? Maybe some partners do better in certain geographic areas than others. Target partners to the segments of traffic where they perform the best (and remove them from segments where they don’t add lift) to help streamline how partners see your inventory and improve performance.

3. If flooring, start with the simpler dimensions first

Flooring is something that should be avoided unless you really want to spend the time to do it well. Should you decide to venture down this path, when you start, don’t be over eager and set floors on basic things. Size is a good dimension to consider (Larger ad sizes typically have higher CPMs, but not always. Check out our blog post Tips for Optimizing Your Ad Sizes for more info). If you have a mix of geographic areas, then you might want to look at flooring by different geographic areas. While static floors are hard to execute well, dynamic floors perform much better, but are complicated to implement because a significant sample set of data is needed. As a pioneer in dynamic flooring, Sortable knows how complicated flooring can be and has automated flooring to ensure floors are continuously optimized.

4. Remember your audience

Your ad stack could be a finely-tuned machine, but you may still experience swings in CPMs when different audiences visit your site. Primarily, this is a result of the type of content you’re producing and/or the means by which your audience is discovering it. Pay attention to Page and Session RPM across things like traffic source, content type, section, and page layout. DFP key-values can help you keep track of these dimensions and it’s worthwhile to understand how they work, as the impact of changing them is often much broader than you’d expect (For more information about reporting on traffic source by UTM parameters.

Sample average CPM by traffic source

traffic source

5. Do more of what is working

A good ad ops philosophy to drive yield is to identify what is performing the worst and fix that thing. It’s much harder to get something that’s performing extremely well to perform better. Sometimes it’s less about tinkering and more about doing what you know works, consistently. So, make sure you understand what’s working well “ find what drives high session RPMs and try to make that as repeatable and scalable as you can.

Higher CPMs could be the result of trickery

Ad networks love CPMs.

They are incredibly easy to manipulate and allow these networks to deal in information that publishers are often missing.

For example: Pretend I’m an ad network. I come to you and promise to guarantee you that the CPM of my ads will be twice as high as your current ads. What do you have to lose, right? Higher CPM (or even RPM) definetly means higher revenue, right? Actually.

In fact, there are literally dozens of ways you could get higher CPMs but ultimately see lower ad earnings.

Here are the most common ways ad networks manipulate higher CPMs

1. Fill rates, passbacks, and skimming

Ad networks will often only count impressions under specific circumstances. There are hundreds of ways that clever networks have come up with to do this over the years.

This includes — but is not limited to— counting only specific types of impressions, filling ads for only certain types of visitors, passing back undesirable impressions to other ad networks.

Imagine what impression data you would cherry-pick if you were an ad network? You’d probably pick the ones with the highest value —giving you a great CPM.

Here’s the problem. All those impressions the ad network is not counting matter to the publisher. While the ad network may technically have a high CPM, the publisher actually has a very low CPM in that ad position.

In this case, the ad network will have a high reported CPM, but the publisher’s actual CPM will be much lower.

This means that actual revenue doesn’t increase at all.

2. Undercounting ad impressions

Unfortunately, there’s not really anyone looking over every ad networks shoulders ensuring they are counting each impression. If ad networks can find ways to reduce the number of impressions divided by the number of ad dollars, they can demonstrate a higher CPM.

This math only works one way. If an ad network undercounts impressions, they will show a higher CPM to the publisher, but the publisher will make the same amount of money anyway.

Ad networks wouldn’t do this, right?

It has happened in the past and is almost certainly still happening now.

desktop and mobile

3. Ad smashing

Ads that provide very high click-through rate can often be a terrible thing for publishers.

I know. Some publisher actually see this as a performance metric for their revenue! This is scary to me.

An ad network that is measuring its performance via CPM has one goal — to generate clicks on a single ad location.

This means they could show really intrusive and aggressive advertising to users in an attempt to get them to click off of the publisher’s site. Native ad networks are known to be the worst offendors.

They have no interest in that user’s experience on your website, how many pages they view, or if they return to your site. User experiences and revenue are directly connected. We’ve talked about this before, but one of the fastest ways to increase ad earnings is to focus on UX.

Increase ad earnings by focusing on the higher CPMs

Here’s the real problem with higher CPMs…

They are looking at the value of a single ad.

They don’t account for what that high CPM might be affecting.

What if it makes total page revenue go down?

What if it makes the user leave on their first page (think annoying ads) instead of visiting 4 more pages filled with ads?

cpm's

Publishers should be laser-focused on optimizing EPMV (earnings per thousand visitors) or Ad Session RPM — as AdSense calls it. This is the average earnings a publisher makes per a thousand website visits.

If you increase Ad Session RPM YOU WILL MAKE MORE MONEY!

The same thing cannot be said for RPMs/eCPMs or CPMs themselves.

This is a really hard lesson for a lot of publishers but it is 100% true.

RPM make money

The example above shows how an annoying ad may pay better and increase eCPMs or RPMs, but its impact on bounce rate and pageviews per visit (the visitor’s experience) can actually result in much lower total ad earnings.

What should I do to increase ad earnings?

I know I have probably flipped things upside down for a lot of publishers that are used to optimizing CPMs and RPMs with little success.

Here’s the best way to move forward.

Focus on session revenue as a core optimization metric (if it goes up, you’re going to make more money) and focus on visitor engagement metrics to increase ad rates over time.

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