We’re fully integrated into the Yahoo! world now, and starting to do a little cross-promotion for my team’s product Direct Media Exchange with the Yahoo Publisher Network customer base. This brief blog post on the YPN Blog is the first of those efforts…
Category Archives: Direct Media Exchange
Much has changed. The name has changed, its parent company has changed, the stats have changed (up!), the visual design has changed, the networks participating have changed (added some more), the team has changed (grown!), but what hasn’t changed is our goal of helping publishers make more money from a free tool to help them manage their ad network inventory.
I’m proud of what we done and really enjoy working with our team. Here’s to another good year!
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On Thursday May 24th at 11:00 AM PDT, Direct Media Exchange will host our first Publisher Seminar Series. Our first speaker is Timothy Ferris, author of the 4-Hour Workweek, an Amazon.com best seller. Future speakers include successful web publisher Steve Jenkins of Cheatcodes.com and Right Media CEO Mike Walrath.
Pre-registration is required for each seminar, and space is limited to 100 participants. To register, visit here.
The seminar will be a 1 hour Q&A with questions coming from the participants.
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With the release of WordPress 2.2 and the addition of sidebar widgets, Direct Media Exchange Development Manager Travis Johnson whipped up an ad tags widget to make it easy to add and manage your Direct Media Exchange ad tags in WordPress.
It’s far from perfect, and is a reminder of how tough it is to answer questions perfectly on the spot, but it’s always fun to blab about what we do. You can listen here. Thanks Juan and Lee at Earners Forum for the opportunity.
I always enjoy posts from bloggers where they mention the top tools or resources they use to master whatever it is they are an expert in. Along those lines, I thought it’d be a good dea to pass along the list of the top ad tools I use and know of to help web publishers and bloggers make more money.
The basic assumption for these tools to be useful to you is that you run a blog or website that uses advertising to make money whether that advertising is sold directly by you, through an ad network, or you use a contextual solution like Google Adsense or YPN. Some of them are very direct in how they help make more money, and some of them are helpful tools that provide information to help you make more money from your advertising. For the most part they are free tools with a couple of exceptions.
Self-described as a visualization tool to improve, test, and track your site, CrazyEgg is best used for publishers to generate “heatmaps” of where people are clicking on their site. This data can be used to make better decisions on where to place ads to get more clicks and response from users. CrazyEgg allows you to set up tests so you can effectively test the difference between two different ad sizes in the same spot, two different color palettes, or totally changing an ad’s location.
It’s easy to setup, it just requires signing up for an account and placing some code in your page footer. You then create a test and start tracking clicks. The free version allows you to track up to 5,000 visits and track 4 different pages at once. There are paid plans if you want to do more in-depth tests.
If you’re working with ad networks, you should be working with RMX Direct. RMX Direct is a free ad network manager that helps you sell your inventory easily and for maximum revenue. It allows you to work with networks directly that are part of the Right Media Exchange, as well as auction your own ad networks like Google Adsense, YPN, Valueclick, Tribal Fusion, or anyone else.
Auctioning your inventory is the best way to maximize your revenue, and RMX Direct has other cool features that make managing ad networks a much better process. Check out a previous post about using it manage contextual ad networks.
If you run a blog or a website with RSS, you need to be running your RSS feed(s) through Feedburner. There are numerous benefits alone in the streamlining, analyzing, and optimizing of RSS feeds by using Feedburner, but if you have enough subscribers it’s an ad revenue stream as well. If I wasn’t consolidating and tracking my RSS subscribers through my Feedburner feed, I probably would have never bothered advertising within my feed. Feedburner makes it extremely easy to advertise in your feed once you hit 500 subscribers, so I’m now just making additional revenue without additional work. Bravo.
If you’re using Google Adsense, you should be using AdsBlackList. It’s a site that compiles user submissions of sites that are “Made For Adsense” sites and low cost per click advertisers. When you sign up for an account, it has you enter your site and some keywords about it. It then returns a list of “Made for Adsense” and low cost per click advertisers you can then ban from showing ads on your site. Besides probably helping increase the quality of ads, you’re also hurting the distribution of a lot of junk in Google’s system. I have not run specific tests on if the overall revenue per click goes up after banning their suggested lists, but other publishers have reported good results.
Yes, it has performance issues. Yes, there is a lag time before you get your data. Yes, it’s Google. However, Google Analytics is still the most complete free web analytics tool out there. For this article, the benefit of Google Analytics as it relates to ad revenue is that you need to analyze your traffic and find out what type of content is interesting to them, what keywords are they using to find you, what referring sites are there, and what geography your users from.
Armed with that data you can now make decisions. Can you identify an underserved area of your site that users are interested in? Interested users means more page views which equals more money! Do you have a lot of visitors from a foreign country? Perhaps it’d be good to sign up with an ad network based in that country and geotarget it to those users with a tool like RMX Direct? You can’t make smart decisions without data, and Google Analytics provides it for free.
For those of you who are still signing up users for email newsletters, Amigo operates much like an ad network except it’s a tool for email advertising. Sign up with Amigo and they’ll match ads and stick ads into your email newsletters earning you additional revenue. If you don’t have an email newsletter, maybe it’s time to start one?
Google Adwords Keyword Tool
I know this tool is meant for Adwords advertisers, but it can be a great way for publishers to find out what search phrases are paying a lot per click if they’re using Adsense or YPN. Click on the “Site-related Keywords” tab, and enter in the URL of a site in the topic you’d like to research. Check the “Include other pages on my site linked from this URL” box, then select “Cost and Ad Position Estimates”, and enter something large like $50.00. You’ll get a result that shows keywords along with an estimate of the CPC they require to get to the estimated ad position.
This is a rough way to find out what topics and terms are generating high revenue per click to focus your content. You can also get estimates of search volume and search volume trends if you’re curious as to how the keywords in the topic stack up there.
Yahoo/Overture Keyword Tool
The famous Yahoo/Overture tool returns keywords that contain the keyword you enter, along with the number of searches on Yahoo Search from the previous month. Many question the accuracy of this data as some strange terms sometimes have really high search counts, but regardless it can be a good estimate of search volume and provides a way to brainstorm additional topics to cover to get more traffic and ad revenue. It also provides a good counterbalance if you’re using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. If a keyword looks interesting to you in both tools, chances are it’s an interesting keyword in reality.
A newer and very cool data/ranking service is out called Quantcast. Quantcast “quantifies” publisher sites and provides an Alexa-like traffic estimate and ranking, but takes it a step further and provides demographic estimates of your audience such as age, gender, household income, ethnicity, and education.
It doesn’t stop there either, and shows interesting things like “Siteographics” which shows what entertainment the audience likes, what retail stores they shop at, and what magazines they check out. It also shows what keywords they used and what other sites are similar in audience. Here is the Quantcast data for YouTube.com.
Why is this cool? Well, once you start selling advertising on your site directly to advertisers, they are often interested in demographic data. The beauty of Quantcast is that they’ll get the data for you and you can point advertisers to this objective third party that has the data. If your site is big enough, they probably already have you listed. If not, you “Quantify” your site by placing a bit of code in the footer of your site template and it will start grabbing the data.
If you don’t trust Quantcast or want your own specific data, you can use SurveyMonkey to create surveys you can show to your audience via popup windows or direct link. It’s a free service, and is pretty easy to use to setup surveys and distribute them.
Just like the benefits of Quantcast, this is great data to provide to advertisers about your audience, and SurveyMonkey results make a great addition to your online media kit or page that pitches advertising on your site.
While not specifically a tool, I felt it necessary to point out some of the top discussion forums where there are web publishers talking about advertising and how to make more money. In no particular order here are ones that I’ve found value in on a consistent basis:
If you have additional tools to suggest, please list them below in the comments. If they make sense, I’ll add them to the list.
Over the last few years contextual ad networks such as the Yahoo Publisher Network and Google Adsense have become powerhouses in the publisher advertising world. Even though ad servers were around long before these networks, many publishers and bloggers don’t bother using ad servers when working with them.
Part of the reason is they make it pretty easy to just slap their ad code on your site and get going, however that’s EXACTLY what they want you to do because then they own all access to that inventory. It can really help you dominate with contextual ad networks if you use an ad server in the ways listed below. Note: RMX Direct is the example ad server being used because it’s free, does all these things, and is the ad server I’m most familiar with at the moment. However, many of these concepts will work with other ad serving options.
1. Set Frequency Caps
Frequency capping is when you specify that you want to only allow a certain advertiser or ad network to receive a set number of impressions over a time period per user. For example, you could specify that you only want to show 10 Adsense impressions per hour per user. The rest of the impressions they’d get could be YPN, or other ad networks you may be working with. Why do this? The main reason is that if you just always show Adsense, the same ads are often shown throughout your site. If a user hasn’t clicked on any after a certain number of impressions, it may help to show YPN ads that have different ads, or YPN ads with a different visual look, or maybe even show CPM display ads.
2. Manage Multiple Color Palettes
With the recent Adsense policy changes requiring competing networks to have ads that have a different visual “look”, an ad server can make it easier to manage multiple color palettes. As mentioned above you can use frequency capping to run different visual looks, but you can also easily manage the delivery of those visual looks by creating multiple campaigns/placements in an ad server that can easily be turned on or off, and have the details adjusted.
3. Combat Smart Pricing
I’m not entirely sure if YPN has “Smart Pricing”, but with AdSense if you are serving ads across multiple websites and one of the websites has clicks not converting as well as others, that website will drag down your revenue per click as a whole. See more information on “Smart Pricing” here or here. Many publishers who realize this and deactivate Adsense from their poorly performing sites see an increase in click payouts due to smart pricing. With RMX Direct, if you suspect that one of your websites may be hurting your overall revenue per click due to Smart Pricing, you can stop serving AdSense ads to that site with the click of a button. There is no need to take down ad code off the site since it’s controlled through the ad server. Then you can also turn it back on with the click of a button, switch it to YPN ads, or do something else with it. It’s much easier and quicker than jockeying code around all over the place.
4. Track Impressions From Multiple Networks In One Spot
One thing that’s always annoying about working with multiple ad networks is having to login to multiple reporting systems to get data. With RMX Direct or another ad server, you can see your impressions for YPN and AdSense all in one place. Unfortunately, at this point most ad servers can’t show revenue data because the amount paid per click varies. As Adsense and YPN move more forward with APIs, we’ll probably see more ad servers finding ways to import that data as well.
5. Work Display Advertising Into The Mix
Users can become blind to contextual text advertisements, which can result in low click-through rates meaning poor revenue for you. Why not put some guaranteed revenue in your pocket by adding CPM display advertisements into the mix? RMX Direct takes that idea one step further beyond normal ad servers, as it has display networks built into the product to apply to and work with easily. They will compete with the prices of your contextual ad networks, making it a guarantee you’ll only earn more revenue. Competition is a beautiful thing.
But what about the “low” quality of many graphic ads? Excuse the sales pitch, but RMX Direct also has a tool called Media Guard that allows for insane control of the characteristics of ads you don’t want appearing on your site.
6. Analyze Geographic Distribution of Ads
The reporting systems of the contextual networks don’t give any geographical breakdown of where your ad impressions are coming from. Knowing this information can help you make decisions on the type of content you create, or if it makes sense to geotarget your ads. If you found out today that 70% of your ad impressions were coming from Europe, it might make sense to create more content for that audience. You can also set up channels with contextual networks and test using different color palettes in different countries to see the results. Different cultures feel different ways about various colors, it wouldn’t be surprising if users from different countries respond to ads differently.
7. Learn From Similar Publishers
This one isn’t available in most ad serving products, but one of the most powerful features of RMX Direct is our community. Sure, you can find a forum out there of AdSense or YPN publishers, but can you find a forum of people who are using both, plus a number of other ad networks at the same time? Our forum is full of publishers just like you who have been there and done that. Ask them for advice, theyâ€™ll be happy to help (as will the RMX Direct support staff).
8. Get RSS Reports of Impressions and Revenue Estimations
Building upon the idea of tracking impressions from multiple ad networks in one spot, some ad servers feature RSS reporting so you can get your stats right in your RSS reader. Again, with the contextual networks, at this point only the number of impressions shown can accurately be reported, along with an estimation of revenue if you’re using RMX Direct. But if you’re using the display networks in RMX Direct, it’s very handy to get the real revenue statistics through RSS.
9. Work With As Many Networks As You Can Handle
If your website doesn’t have much traffic, then you don’t need to work with many ad networks. However, if you get a decent amount of traffic and take advertising seriously, you should definitely work with as many ad networks as it makes sense for your traffic levels. To start out with, you have the ability to sign up with nine ad networks from the Right Media Exchange. However, once you start adding additional ad networks in, the sky is the limit. Work with whatever contextual networks you want. If fact, you can add networks from the whole spectrum, more display networks, more contextual networks, and even more affiliate advertisers.
10. Geotarget Your Ads
Which does better in Asia, YPN or AdSense? Want to find out? With RMX Direct, you can geotarget your advertising placements. Itâ€™s useful in a number of situations. Let me give you an example: letâ€™s say youâ€™ve noticed a spike in clicks from Russia and youâ€™re worried about click fraud. The solution is simple, turn off contextual ad serving to that area with a quick click and save (if the problem is severe, please notify your ad network). As mentioned above, you can also target color palettes to specific regions, or eliminate showing contextual ads to any countries beyond the USA if you want to show different types of ads to international users. The power is in your hands.
Bonus tip: Instead of PSAs, show display ads.
With some contextual networks, you can specific what you want to do in the event a public service announcement (PSA) needs to be served. Well, donâ€™t lose that impression and the money that comes with it, send it to an ad server like RMX Direct where you have display networks that can pay you a CPM for that impression. Simply put RMX Direct ad code into an HTML file and point the network to it. Behold, 100% fill rate for your advertising.
Hopefully the above tips showed that a whole new level of power is available in managing contextual networks by using an ad server. You put the control in your own hands and can use it to optimize your contextual advertising.
It’s always nice to see my employer get some coverage and praise. After a few years of working under the radar people are starting to notice Right Media and that we’re doing very interesting things. We were named as one of eight “Tech Companies To Watch in 2007″ by BusinessWeek. See our profile here, and the $225 million funding number they list is very wrong. The total of the two rounds of funding the company has received are $57 million total.
There are a lot of promising initiatives going on right now, and I’m in full agreement that 2007 could be a big year. Go team.
We’ve just completed another featured publisher interview at RMX Direct. Read on for more about Star Media Group and how they use RMX Direct to improve their ad monetization on their online radio sites.
Star Media Group Inc. is a conglomerate of online radio stations that span a number of genres. These stations include www.star104.net, www.club977.com, www.977music.com, www.kmgx.com, www.oldiesradionet.com, www.radiostorm.com, www.club977hitz.com, and www.rdl101.com. Jamie Davis is the President of Star Media Group Inc., and he is our new Featured Publisher.
Vince Panero (VP): How did you get interested in web publishing originally? What were those early days like for you?
Jamie Davis: We started in internet radio years back and were looking for a way to monetize our listener traffic. Audio ads were still new and not very popular as of yet, so we looked to image and banner advertising on a CPM basis. The first months were rough and low in earnings, but after a few months, everything just sort of took off, and we found ourselves growing our revenue every month. It’s been great ever since.
VP: Can you tell us about your online radio-focused website? Having this focus, are there any particular issues exclusive to your site that you had to overcome to make the advertising model work?
Jamie Davis: Our website (websites actually, we operate 3 sub-portals of stations under our parent corporation) consists of several online-only radio station webcasts, each predominantly windows media based. It is imperative that our sites run banner advertising that is parallel to the type of audience we draw in. It’s been tough at times to accomplish that goal, as some of our advertisers have simply thrown any old ad up there without specifically targeting our demographics. RMX Direct has helped with that by providing targeted ads along with the use of their Media Guard system to prevent unwanted ads from being shown. We’ve also had some problems in the past with getting the most money for our inventory. RMX Direct also solves this problem with the bid-based system they utilize.
VP: Did you get into this with the idea that you would make ad dollars from this site? How did you initially monetize your site? What problems did you encounter utilizing these early methods?
Jamie Davis: Originally, webcasting was simply something I enjoyed as a hobby, and eventually, it became more of a full-time job and I was happy to be able to do what I liked to do. Initially, we didn’t really monetize our site; most of our DJs were just in it for the thrill of internet radio and having an audience listening to their picks. After a while, bandwidth became an issue, and we turned to some sort of advertising revenue. We started out with audio ads, but during our first days, times were tough because audio advertising was still very new to the market, and internet radio was pretty new itself. After a while, we decided banner-based ads were the way to go.
VP: Why did you start using RMX Direct as your ad network management system of choice?
Jamie Davis: RMX Direct allows us to rotate our outside publishing accounts in their system and eliminates the need for us to have to install and utilize our own system, such as phpAds or AdJuggler. These systems, with our amount of web traffic, can heavily tax our web server and cause downtime after a few hours of heavy traffic. We can rotate our current accounts in RMX Direct, while at the same time allowing the RMX networks to compete and outbid for our inventory. It really helps us monetize our traffic on a new level, both by keeping our overhead down, and increasing our overall revenue.
VP: What statistical changes have you seen since you started using it? For example, have your eCPM and revenue increased?
Jamie Davis: Our eCPMs as a whole, across our entire inventory measurement, have increased by at least 20%. Our revenue has also increased along the same lines thanks to this. We’ve noticed that much more of our traffic has been monetized, and less defaults and PSAs have been shown across all our advertising accounts.
VP: What do you like most about RMX Direct? Are there helpful parts of it that other ad management interfaces simply don’t offer? And how does it address the specific needs of being an online radio-focused website?
Jamie Davis: I really enjoy RMX’s overall administrative platform. When I log in to the system, I can not only view revenue for the day, but I can also easily rotate all of my ad engines into the mix and set up a rotation I prefer, based on geo-targeting, eCPM, frequency, etc. It really eliminates a lot of the hassle of having to install and administer my own rotation system. No other ad management interface I’ve seen does this as effectively. It really allows us, as an online radio web portal, to manage our ad placements effectively and easily. Our revenue enjoys the benefits of this.
VP: Do you have any tips or tricks that you think others using the exchange might find useful?
Jamie Davis: There are really no tricks to this, but I do have one tip. Keep your eCPMs for your outside networks updated at least weekly. I update ours on a weekly basis, and it really helps our revenue grow. Don’t just set a general CPM and sit and wait, or everything suffers. Keep everything updated on a consistent basis.
VP: Do you have any final thoughts on this “exchange concept” (network transparency and competition, the utility of having just one login, etc.)?
Jamie Davis: This new ad exchange platform has revolutionized everything in the online advertising world as far as I’m concerned. If we could get all of our networks to join into this system, I don’t think I’d have quite as many problems as I have when it comes to running the technical aspects and financial aspects of our company.
VP: Thanks for being a member of RMX Direct, Jamie.
We’ve got our first case study video created for RMX Direct. The lucky case study is Steve Jenkins from CheatCodes.com. Steve was very gracious to allow us to interview him and provide some helpful insights into how he’s used RMX Direct to improve the amount of ad revenue he earns from his site.