Jon Fletcher 2020-07-01

How to Increase Mobile eCPMs

Like any commodity, gold, or pork bellies, the price of ad impressions changes depending on the market. Connect the right ads with the right buyers and you can get higher revenue from the same product.

So, as a seller in a sellers' market, there are things you can do to make sure that you get the highest price possible for your ad impressions. In this article, we're covering the 6 most effective ways to ensure higher eCPMs from the same ad inventory, without serving more ads. 

What is eCPM? 

eCPM stands for Effective Cost per Thousand and is effectively average revenue generated from your impressions. As online advertising is a volume business, this is calculated per 1000 impressions.  eCPM is calculated using a simple formula: 

(total earnings / total impressions) x 1,000. 
This shows publishers the actual revenue they have earned per 1000 impressions. This metric is not to be confused with CPM, (Cost per Mille). CPM is the rate advertisers are willing to pay per 1000 impressions, eCPM is what the publisher actually earns. 

They differ because eCPM is calculated after the campaign, regardless of the buying method being used, eg, fixed price, cost per click, or cost per acquisition. When these factors have been taken into account, publishers can see their actual revenue per 1000 impressions, their eCPM.
Now, let's look at ways publishers can make quick changes that will increase their eCPMs. 

1.Premium competition 

Not all ad inventory is equal. Advertisers want to feature their ads on quality content with engaged and receptive readers. They don't want their ad to drown on a badly put together page that the reader bounces from as soon as they digest the first morsel of content. This means sell-side providers that can guarantee high-quality inventory can demand higher CPMs, generating higher eCPMs for publishers. 

The best way to ensure this is to connect to premium ad networks and SSPs that can connect you to these advertisers. While Ad servers will charge fees, the higher eCPMs generated from these more premium, trustworthy platforms more than offsets any costs. 

You can see a list of the top 8 highest-paying SSPs here.

Each SSP often has its own specialization, such as video ads, that can help increase eCPMS by giving your inventory to the people dedicated to selling it. But In order to ensure that advertisers are getting high-quality, brand-safe placements, the majority of large ad networks and SSPs have a high minimum monthly session bar which makes them only available to large publishers. 

2.More bidders, higher bids 

With the connections to premium advertisers, the next tactic is to increase the competition between them for your ad space. More competition drives up the bid price and drives up your eCPMs. 

But if you're thinking, why doesn't every header bidder just add as many bidders as possible, it's not as simple as that. In normal header bidding processes, once you add more than 5 or 6 bidders, you start to see latency, slowing the page down. This is why most header bidder wrappers limit their bidders. However, with server-side header bidding, the auction process happens on the server-side, rather than the user's device. This means bidders can be added without latency. 

When more bidders are added, it increases the likelihood of an advertiser valuing your audience or placement higher than others which is why it's so effective at increasing eCPMs. 

3. Increase your ad viewability 

With your buying process optimized, the next way to increase eCPMs is to increase the value of your product by making your ads more viewable. Advertisers want their ads to be seen and will often take viewability into account when deciding rates. Some advertisers and ad networks agree to only pay for certified viewable impressions which can drag down publishers' eCPMs. The three most effective ways to increase your viewability that any publisher can do are:

- Faster ads

Most readers will see the ads in the first viewport, at least. So, for viewability speed matters most in first and second ad spaces. These ads can be prioritized by first loading the page code, the second ad on the viewport, and then all non-vital code to deliver the impression. 

- Lazy Loading

Lazy-loading will prioritize the content in the user's viewport, rather than loading the entire page. When users don't scroll down Below-the-fold ad slots are not loaded, meaning fewer ad requests are made and there are fewer non-viewable ads. 

- Lazy rendering

After measuring the average user scroll speed, data has shown that publishers should lazy render ads one viewport in advance. By the time they scroll an additional viewport, the ad will be viewable and fully rendered. 

4.Ad formats

This is where things get slightly more nuanced. There are plenty of ad formats that command so much attention that they earn eye-watering eCPMs. But, they cost you readers. Block a story with a full-page interstitial with auto-playing audio and you will gain the impression.

The issue is the majority of readers are going to be irritated by the and either close the page or think twice before clicking your links again. For higher eCPMs that stay high - and don't cost you readers - publishers should stick to approved ad formats and premium experiences.
You can find our full recommendations on high value, non-intrusive ad placements here. In the meantime, you can see the ad formats that you should certainly avoid here: 
  • Pop-up Ads 
  • Prestitial ads 
  • Ad density over 30% 
  • Flashing animated ads 
  • Auto-playing video ads with sound 
  • Post-stitial ads with countdown 
  • Full-screen rollover ads 
  • Large sticky ads 

5.Ad placements 

Similar to ad formats, placement best practices are often more concerned with what you shouldn't do. Disruptive placements can earn a spike in eCPMs but if they overpower the user experience, the impact on your reader numbers will almost always end up costing you more in the long run. To build consistently higher eCPMs from your ad placements, they need to be considered as part of the user experience, noticeable, viewable, but not disruptive. 

There are some best practices to follow for this: Place ads in content-heavy areas of the site. Avoid spots with light or no unique content. Users skip these sections quickly so your ad won't register a view. Ads are a trade-off for the value of the content, so if your content is too light around the ads, the user can feel short-changed, leading to page exits and lower dwell times.

Finally, an ad is always scrollable, so don't take up viewport space with too many ads or your readers will skip past them all. 

The darker the color, the more visible your ads will be. 

6.Stay ahead of your users 

Lastly, the best way to consistently ensure high eCPMs is to make sure your readers are not sick of your mobile experience. Expectations of what mobile should be like change quickly. Your experiences need to reflect that. If you're not delivering a mobile experience that keeps readers engaged, you lose the power to demand high CPMs from advertisers, dragging down your eCPM. Ad formats also flip in and out of fashion. The industry can drive spikes in eCPMs for certain ad formats and placements.

Having a wide network of sell-side providers and the ability to shift strategy to capture the most demanded ads in the most demanded formats. To increase eCPMs publishers need to offer a more valuable experience than the average ad space. This means higher viewability, a well-defined and engaged readership that is happy with the ad/content ratio, and page performance that can deliver the creative as part of an overall experience. 

Marfeel has a mission to improve the mobile advertising experience. Download our 5 tactics that help increase ad revenue and improve the user experience.

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