YieldBuild in 2012

By December 22nd, 2011

It has indeed been a while since we’ve done a blog post, and it’s due time to both reflect on the past year as well as announce some of our big plans for 2012.

Over the last year, we’ve improved the algorithm we use for maximizing publishers’ revenue as well as expanded our coverage to international markets. We’ve made several changes:

  • We expanded international market coverage by partnering with industry leaders in Canada, UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil. This has enabled us to secure much higher CPMs in these regions without sacrificing fill rate.
  • We’re allocating impressions and generating CPM forecasts based on individual geography CPMs as opposed to worldwide averages.
  • We secured fixed-rate CPMs for US inventory in Q1 and Q2.
With regards to 2012, YieldBuild will be doing more to enhance CPM forecasting and revenue maximization. We’ll focus on incorporating Real-Time Bidding (RTB) into our ad serving as well as factoring in the placement of individual ad units when determining how impressions get allocated to our networks.

In addition to this, there will be a handful of changes with regards to what services we’ll offer starting in January 2012:

  • Due to poor performance and low demand, we’re killing the Premium Text Ad Program (PTAP). All existing memberships will be deactivated in the first week of January. Fill rate will be made up for by adding additional display networks to the publishers affected.
  • We’re removing the direct Chitika Network association.
  • We’re reducing the quantity of Network partners to work more closely with the better performing networks – to help lift overall eCPMs.
  • New publishers must have at least 25,000 unique visitors a month.
  • We will no longer be providing direct support for existing publishers with less than 25,000 unique visitors a month. These publishers can continue to use YieldBuild as a self-service tool. Bug reports can be sent to publishersteam@yieldbuild.com.
We will continue to optimize Google AdSense for new and existing publishers.

These changes all together will add significant depth to the way in which YieldBuild decides how it places ads in the correct zones and at the optimal time so that publishers can reap the most reward. Feel free to leave comments or questions on this post.

The YieldBuild team wishes you a healthy, happy, and prosperous holiday season!

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Malicious ads infiltrating the top dogs of online ad networks: DoubleClick & MSN

By December 14th, 2010

Over the past couple of weeks, a few YieldBuild pubs alerted us about intrusive anti-virus ads loading on their sites. The ads would prompt users to click on “anti-virus” software and subsequently load malware onto victims’ machines. Because there wasn’t a massive outbreak of these ads across the YieldBuild publisher network, it was very difficult to track down the cause of the particular instances. When something like this occurs, it goes against the wishes of both advertisers and publishers, website developers, programers, and of course, users.  And what is most difficult: detecting the culprit.

It has now been confirmed that over the past two weeks, both DoubleClick and MSN were victims of what is known as a “drive by download,” an attack engineered by hackers resulting in the unintended download of computer software.

The preferred vehicles for these annoyances are actually banner ads (though they can also load via e-mail or pop-ups) that do not require a click to initiate downloads. Instead,  the user’s browser tries to (and thinks it is!) load an advertisement but is in fact already downloading malware onto the computer.

What can we do to arm ourselves against these villainous creatures? Unfortunately, very little. Most of these viruses are deposited in the form of JavaScript, which many legitimate websites also use. But, all hope is not lost! Here are some tips for how to quickly detect malware and rid your computer of “malvertising”:

*Triple check domain names: According to Wayne Huang, chief technology officer at Armorize Technologies (a web security firm): “A domain name that is registered too recently – which also bears a suspicious resemblance to one that an ad network already uses – is a red flag,”

*Try and equip your machine with a Malware detection program and anti-virus protection software

*Report suspicious ads to YieldBuild support! The more detail you have about the advertisement (including a firebug shot of the corresponding code), the faster we can work with our ad partners to figure out both (a) which network has been impersonated and (b) blacklist the faulty domains from serving again.

For more information regarding the technical details of the DoubleClick/MSN attack and the threats that it posed, check out Huang’s blog post.

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Online Ad Revenues Climb 13.9% in 2010

By December 9th, 2010

Despite widespread anxieties over economic uncertainty,  a report released by eMarketer this week highlights online advertising as one of the faster-growing markets out there.

Spending by large brand marketers and SMBs will be a key factor in future growth. Not only does the report forecast a 10.5% increase in US online ad spending next year, but in its accompaniment will be yearly double-digit growth through 2014 where spending will hit $40.5 billion! That is more than a ten fold increase of the rate of total media ad spending growth, projected to rise a mere 1.2% in 2011.

What are the proximate “causes” of this growth, so to speak?

Marketing Focus: Marketers of all shapes and sizes recognize the internet’s centrality in our lives and are allocating more and more of their ad budgets towards digital media.

Sense of Stability: While seemingly ironic, the reaction of many marketers’ to the recession is to spend more and more for online advertising. According to the report, this is evidence of a growing trend that sees internet advertising as “a ‘sure thing’ compared to most traditional media.”

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A recent report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau finds that more than $5 billion was spent on SEO in the first half of 2010 alone. Search is projected to maintain its status as the largest recipient of ad spending through 2014.

Video Advertising is growing: In particular, video ad formats are growing at an explosive rate  (especially popular amongst big brand marketers) and this is expected to pick up substantially in 2011.

What does this mean for political ads? David Hallerman, principal analyst at eMarketer, claims that they’ll [thankfully] continue to permeate our cable boxes (where I can continue to fast-forward through them).

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Why don’t YieldBuild’s reports match that of Google and/or Quantcast?

By August 2nd, 2010

I’m frequently asked by publishers about YieldBuild reporting data and how it affects gross revenue. There are a couple of things to keep in mind about reporting that may answer a lot of these questions!

1. Delays – there can be delays in reporting from some of our ad networks if:

-You just created an account. It can take at least 3-4 days from when a site goes live for anyone to be able to track the progress
-You are signed up with multiple ad networks. Some of our ad partners are slower than others in reporting data – this is usually a 24 hour lag.
-It was just the weekend. As you can expect, some of our ad partners wait until Monday to report weekend progress. By Tuesday these reports should be up and accurate.

2. The PERFORMANCE and NETWORKS tabs are what reflect actual numbers.

Sometimes pubs get concerned because data under the PAGES or SITES tab does not match data under the PERFORMANCE and NETWORKS tabs. Keep in mind that the latter two are what reflect the actual numbers and the former two are merely YieldBuild’s internal estimates, which can be slightly inaccurate sometimes.

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Google tests background colors on search results

By July 22nd, 2010

Google’s a company that trusts numbers over instinct or aesthetics. As you might expect with a company that touts its algorithm as the secret to its success, optimization of results is the Big G’s bread and butter.

It should then come as no surprise that Google’s prime real estate, its search results Sponsored Results, should be open to optimization, as well. Most of us recognize these results, at least the ones at the top, as being shaded in a pale blue. But recently, we found a couple of differently-colored variants – one pinkish, one peachy – that suggests that Google means it when they suggest that publishers test, test and test again their AdSense ad unit background colors, since they can have an impact on clickthrough.

YieldBuild automatically tests background color on text ads (either AdSense or Premium Text Ad Program), but if you’re flying solo, then you’ll want to test and measure, and test and measure.

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AdSense: Google takes a third (32% to be precise)

By May 24th, 2010

adsense-logo-gifSo much for the Google black box. Google ended years of publisher speculation when it just announced on its AdSense blog that it pays 68% of its revenue to its publishers for AdSense for Content. (It also adds that it pays out 51% of its revenue to its publishers for AdSense for Search)

The first question I had was “with what standard deviation?”. Does Google really pay out the same percentage to all of its publishers, large and small? The language of its post seems to indicate that, with the exception of large publishers with whom they have custom contracts, the 68% holds for everyone.

The second question I asked–and maybe this is just speculative–is “does that figure change?”. Google leaves that open, as its administration costs might change down the line, but the thing about putting a hard number out there is that it will be watched and commented on, and should it change against the publishers, expect an uproar. Since Google doesn’t exactly like to court resentment and bad PR, let’s assume the 68% is the lower bar for publisher payout going forward.

Third question: “what will AdSense publishers speculate on now that Google’s rev share is no longer a secret?”

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Will DFP Small Business remain free?

By February 22nd, 2010

dfp-small-businessPublishers using Google Ad Manager to manage their site ad scheduling and serving needs found an email from Google this morning notifying them that their Google Ad Manager account will be upgraded to DFP Small Business (DoubleClick for Publishers) over the course of the next couple of weeks. Along with the nomenclature change come an open API as well as an updated UI.

Google will also be moving (mainly large) publishers using DoubleClick DART for Publishers to a more feature-rich DFP over the course of a year.

Presumably DFP publishers will continue to pay for the ad serving service they’ve been receiving through DART. But what about DFP Small Business? Will the little guys continue to enjoy free ad serving on Google’s dime?

Although the product is self-service and tends to serve publishers with substantially lower traffic, the aggregate traffic volume of long-tail publishers must cost Google a pretty penny. DFP Small Business’s FAQ states that the free service is limited to publishers serving under 90 million ad impressions per month…excluding Google AdSense. Will that 90 million get the squeeze?

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Display is growing…provided it’s geotargeted

By December 3rd, 2009

geotargeted-bannersThe online ad market, while stabilizing after a rough year, has been relatively brutal for the display ad market in particular. While search has continued to eke out growth during the downturn, spend on branding-heavy banner has taken a heavy toll with recovery still elusive.

There might be a type of display ads that buck the trend, though. Geotargeted ads, which combine the eye-catching appeal of a banner with messaging that resonates with a visitor’s locale, was an $897 million market in 2008 but expected to grow at a 16% CAGR through 2013, when it will capture 15% of the display market, comprising $1.9 billion, in the U.S. alone.

BIA/Kelsey’s report highlights increasing spend by SMEs, likely the greatest potential beneficiaries of ad geotargeting, of contributing the fastest growth to the geotargeted display market, with 66% growth through 2013. This is unsurprising. Having learned the ropes of geotargeting ads to reach customers from AdWords, local small businesses are likely to take advantage of services like AdReady, Personiva (now AdaptiveAds) and SnapAds to build display advertising to scale to service customers in desired locations. Text ads through AdWords lacks the visual impact of display and geotargeted display can round out the reach picture for advertisers seeking to saturate local markets.

Growth charts available at Marketing Charts.

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What is YieldBuild?

By November 12th, 2009

We’ve met a lot of people, both online and live, who have heard great things about us, but don’t really know what we do and if we’re a match for their site. This blog post will lay it all out for the curious searcher, and answer some of the most common questions for people interested in our service.

In short: YieldBuild is a free ad optimization service for publishers. We help publishers make more money from ad networks like Google AdSense, Microsoft pubCenter, and ValueClick. Since 2007, we  have helped almost 1,000 publishers make their ads perform better.

How does it work? YieldBuild uses a proprietary algorithm to figure out which ad (across available ad networks, and their formatting options) that perform best to maximize your ad revenue. So YieldBuild will determine, for instance, if a specific ad spot should be filled with a white-background text ad from AdSense, or a display ad from Advertising.com, or a gray-background contextual ad from Microsoft pubCenter, in order to make the most money from that piece of real estate.

The process is relatively simple:

  1. You set up an account with YieldBuild, and associate any ad network accounts that you’d like to use (we support many*)
  2. You follow our step-by-step installation guide that helps you embed YieldBuild ad tags into the spots on your site where you want ads to run
  3. YieldBuild will test a wide variation of ad layout permutations to train the algorithm for your site
  4. Once trained, YieldBuild will serve up the best-performing ads on your site, occasionally testing new layout variants that might work better (in case your traffic patterns change or in case ad blindness sets in)

Here are some answers to common questions (more are answered here in our FAQ):

  • Do you charge a fee?
    No, YieldBuild optimization is free. We used to charge a 3% impressions-based fee, but we phased that out in September 2009.
  • Are there any potential conflicts with the ad networks I work with?
    No. We have optimized AdSense and other networks for two years and have never had a publisher lose their ad network account simply for using YieldBuild. (We can not prevent you from getting banned for other reasons, however, like click fraud.)
  • Do you work with WordPress (Blogger, etc.)?
    Yes. We can work with any site or blogging/CMS platform. We do offer a step-by-step installation guide (our express install option) for  WordPress, Blogger, TypePad and vbForum.
  • What sites do you work with?
    We accept sites of any size, and any type (with the exception of adult, gambling, and other excluded site types).
  • What kind of improvement can I expect to see?
    That is entirely dependent on how well you had optimized your ads before using us, how much latitude you’ve given YieldBuild to optimize your site’s inventory, and the number of optimization options you’ve taken advantage of. An improvement of 20-50% is possible given the results we’ve seen among our top clients. (See some YieldBuild success stories.)
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YieldBuild and HubPages at SES San Jose (video)

By October 8th, 2009

Ryan Hupfer (first in the video) and Ren Chin talk about HubPages and YieldBuild, respectively, at August’s SES San Jose 2009.

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