1. Setup a Daisy Chain
A good network optimization tool will allow you decide the order in which ad networks are served on your site. This is often called a daisy chain. If one ad network is paying you a better eCPM than another, you should put them higher up in the chain. This will increase the quantity of impressions given (first impressions have more uniques as none have left the site yet), as well as increase the value of the impressions (first impressions perform better).
2. Setup a Daisy Chain per Country
Network CPMs varies by country. Network A may pay $1.10 in USA but pay just $0.20 in UK. If you were sending UK impressions to network A you would be losing revenue. Therefore create a daisy chain per country. In this example Network A may be high up the US daisy chain but not in the UK daisy chain at all. You should create daisy chains only in countries where you both generate significant traffic and countries where CPMs are decent. So UK often needs it's own daisy chain: big volumes and high CPMs. China often does not: high volumes but low CPMs. To create a daisy chain per country you need t ask each ad network to give you a tag for each country you want to have a daisy chain in. If you are going to have 5 daisy chains for 5 countries and one daisy chain for inventory from all other countries, then you need to ask each network for 6 tags. If you run two ad dimensions then this means 12 daisy chains.
3. Negotiate Fixed Price CPMs
Networks strive for volume from good quality sites. If you have a good quality site you should demand a flat CPM deal with the networks. Even if you have a UGC site still try to negotiate fixed CPM deals. This will normally earn you more money
4. For Revenue Share Networks Set min CPMs
Many networks don't pay you a flat CPM but instead pay you a percentage share of the revenue they generate. The CPMs you earn will therefore vary each day. Ask the networks to set a "floor CPM". This means that the network will not serve any campaigns that will earn you less than the agreed floor CPM. Instead the network will redirect the impression back (called a "pass back") to your ad server so that you can send it to another network that pays better.
5. All Pass Backs Must go into The Right Place in Your Daisy Chain
Some networks don’t always have a paid ad to serve above your floor CPM. They therefore send some impressions to the default tag you give them. Some publishers are tempted to use another network as the default tag. However if you do that you lose control of the daisy chain for all future impressions for that user. So instead you should ask the network to send default impressions back to your ad server. If your ad server supports network optimization then make sure those defaults go back into exactly the right spot in your daisy chain. They will then go down through the rest of the chain of ad networks.
6. Make Sure you Calculate the True ECPM Correctly.
This is the actual revenue that the network pays you divided by the impressions that your ad server sent to that network. CPMs displayed by the networks will use lower impression numbers to make their CPMs look larger. Don't be fooled. Make sure you are comparing only True ECPMs for all ad networks. This lets you truly compare ad network CPMs on an apples-to-apples basis, to see who is paying the most for that country. Ad Servers with ad network optimization capability will automatically calculate the True ECPM for all networks in each of your daisy chains.
7. Monitor the True ECPMs Every 3 days
I have found that monitoring the True ECPMs in each daisy chain every 3 days is best. To do this fast and compare True ECPMs in different daisy chains you need all your daisy chains displayed on one page.
8. Get Networks to Like You
Ad networks can run their best high paying campaigns on any of their sites. If they know you and like you they will try to steer their best campaigns onto your site. So take your rep out to lunch and send him a hamper at Christmas.
9. Try New Networks
Ask experts in the industry which networks perform best. Try these networks to see if they will pay you well
10. Try New Ad Formats
New ad formats perform better than old ones. The click through rate for some new formats is great. For example, some new ZEDO formats have achieved CTRs of over 1% when the same network's ads on the site usually get a CTR of 0.3%.
About the author:
Rohan Lotlikar, Ad Network Optimization Team Leader for ZEDO, Inc.
Rohan has been with ZEDO, Inc. for over 6 years. He has a background in application development, and 7 years of experience in software development and engineering.