Sortable 101: Sorta-Who?

Trish Manrique Sortable Updates

Ad Ops can be a very confusing industry — from AdSense to header bidding, to staying on top of industry changes and events, it can get overwhelming! To try and simplify some things, we introduced our Sortable 101 webinar series, where insiders here at Sortable break down the different aspects that make up all things ‘Ad Ops’ and translate it into plain ol’ English.

The webinar starts by going over the agenda, including methods for revenue growth, who Sortable is in the ad tech landscape and what we do to help publishers, as well as our monetization solutions. As always, we like to provide a little bit of social proof that what we’re doing it actually making a difference — no having to take our word for it! If you want to watch the webinar, feel free!

Note: This has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

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Neera: Hi everyone. Just before we get started, I wanted to thank you for joining us on our first episode of Sortable 101: Sorta-Who?

Ad Ops can be very confusing. From AdSense to header bidding, to staying on top of industry changes and events, it can get overwhelming. So that’s why we’ve started Sortable 101. Our goal is to break down the different aspects that make up Ad Ops and simplify it for everyone.

Neera: As for introductions, my name is Neera Shanker and I’m the Digital Marketing Specialist here at Sortable. With me today is Trish Manrique, our Content Marketing Partner. Trish, do you want to give us a quick intro about yourself?

Trish: Hi everyone! I’m Trish. If you’ve subscribed to our newsletter, you’ve probably seen an email from me (or two)! I handle our content development and creation here at Sortable from email marketing, blog posts, graphics, and whatever else gets thrown my way. 

Neera: Awesome! To kick things off, let’s just quickly go over our agenda.

Trish: We’re going to start by discussing some methods you can use to help scale your revenue growth — most of which you can do on your own. From there, we’ll go over who Sortable is, what we do, and how we fit into the overall picture. Next, we’ll go over our monetization solutions as well as some of the publishers that we’ve worked with. A little social proof to show that what we’re doing, actually works. After that, we will end things off with some of the questions we got from you!

Neera: In Ad Ops, there are a couple of tactics you can implement to start seeing improvements in your ad revenue. A popular one that you may have heard of is header bidding.

Header bidding itself is a piece of Javascript code that you attach to your site’s header. What it does can be a bit more complex. 

Basically, when someone lands on your website, as your site is loading, that piece of code starts engaging in a real-time auction that starts to send requests to several ad networks. The ad networks respond by placing their bids. By the time your site loads, your site visitor will be looking at the winning bid that was passed to your ad server. Sounds like a lengthy process, but in reality, the whole auction takes milliseconds to complete. 

Trish: Header bidding is an attractive way to increase your ad revenue because you aren’t relying on just one supply-side provider. With more competition between ad networks, you can increase your fill rates and prices for your premium inventory. In other words, more competition equals more bids, which then equals more demand. 

And importantly, if you’re big on reporting, header bidding works within one auction, so there’s a higher level of transparency.

Neera: Another strategy you can leverage is ad refresh. This one is a bit more intuitive, where new ads are refreshed as a site visitor stays on your page. This increases the number of impressions served in one session. More impressions positively impact your revenue. 

With that being said, you don’t want to have a user view 5 ads within 15 seconds. If you’re using an ad exchange, let’s say Google AdX, your ads need to be refreshed based on certain triggers that abide by Google’s rules. This is to help provide a proper user experience for your site visitor without spamming them repeatedly with new ads. 

Advertisers need to know that you’re using ad refresh and what triggers you’re using since they are bidding for those ad slots where the ads will be refreshed. This requires a bit of extra work in AdX, in the form of declarations.

Trish: According to advertising industry guidelines, you must declare which portions of your inventory refreshes. Advertisers should know:

  1. That they’re purchasing refresh inventory
  2. What the specific triggers are that cause the refresh 
  3. And lastly, the minimum time intervals to expect between refreshes

Failure to declare your refresh inventory, or doing it improperly, is a violation of Google policy.

Neera: So it’s a tactic that is proven to help increase ad revenue when implemented correctly. These are some high-level overviews of these two tactics. We will be going more in-depth in future episodes to flesh them out more.

Trish: Coming back to our agenda, we touched on a couple of popular strategies publishers like to use to give them a boost in ad revenue. Moving on to how this relates to Sortable.

Neera: So firstly, who is Sortable

Trish: Well, we actually started out as a publisher ourselves. Prior to 2014, we were called Snapsort. We built 20 websites and apps that helped people compare similar products across a variety of categories, like cameras. Just like other publishers, we hit a ton of roadblocks while trying to monetize our ad inventory. 

Neera: One of our roadblocks was how everyone in the Ad Ops space had their own reporting platform and individual tech standards. This made things harder for publishers to get all their relevant information in one place. It took a lot of time to figure out simple things like, how much money did we make yesterday?

We realized that this was not a scalable process. So we made our own data pipeline that would collect the activity data from our site and push it into our Sortable Analytics dashboard in order to manipulate the data and gain actionable insights from it.

Trish: Our goal now, is to be the most important partner a publisher has in running a profitable business. To achieve that goal, we empower publishers with a few key offerings:

  • Our fully-managed service, which includes a team of Ad Ops experts who can implement ad monetization strategies (like header bidding, ad refresh, dynamic flooring??), all while actively monitoring your account for fraud, ad discrepancies, viewability, ad quality assurance, and much more.
  • We care about your user experience, so it’s a priority for us to ensure that your ad layout is not disruptive to your user base
  • You have access to over 30 well-known demand partners like Facebook, Teads, Rubicon, and AppNexus, which translates to more partners bidding on your ad inventory. This creates an opportunity for more revenue.
  • Our analytics platform shows you granular-level performance data about your content and monetization. This means that you can see which partners are actually making you money.

We want publishing to be easier and efficient with better quality ads, less fraud, and higher-paying CPMs.

Neera: But not all publishers are the same. There are publishers that understand all the nuances and players that make up Ad-tech. And then there are publishers that are just starting out and need a bit of assistance.

 So how exactly does Sortable help?

Trish: Fair question, we have four monetization solutions that we offer here at Sortable. They’re based on the level of help and expertise you need. Are you someone who’s looking for a fully managed and hands-off solution so you can focus on your content? Or, are you looking for a little more control when it comes to your ad optimization?

Neera: As Trish mentioned, we have four monetization solutions. Sortable Managed Services, Hosted, Select, and Analytics

Let’s start with our fully managed hands-off solution. 

You’re a blogger or content marketer who’s worked with an ad network partner like AdSense to start, and you’re looking to expand. You want to focus on creating content for your blog or editorial, but you’re wasting time trying to figure out how to implement header bidding or you are looking for demand partners to help increase your ad revenue. 

This is the time taken away from what you actually want to do, which is to write great content. That’s where Sortable Managed Services comes in.

This solution works best for publishers who are looking for a team of Ad Ops experts to implement, optimize, and maintain your advertising for you. But what if you’re looking for a bit more control?

Trish: That’s why we created Sortable Hosted. It’s similar to Managed Services, except instead of our team implementing any code changes on your behalf, we’ll give your team the tools to implement it yourself. This solution is ideal for those of you who may already have a small Ad Ops team or some knowledge of the industry, but you are looking to leverage Sortable’s hosted ad server and advertiser relationships. 

One of the added benefits of using Sortable is working with our onboarding team. Between A/B testing ad layouts and updating any code changes, things can get overwhelming. Fast. That’s why our team will work with you every day during the onboarding process to ensure that you understand the changes being made to your site and to answer any questions you may have.

Neera: For customers who have their own Google Ad Manager account and Ad Ops teams and are looking for a complete ad stack solution—try Sortable Select

This solution lets you run your own ad server and maintain your direct advertiser relationships. You can add Sortable’s advertising partners to maximize your ad stack potential. 

Don’t give up programmatic for your direct deals. Maintain control of your direct campaigns while reaping the benefits of programmatic revenue and analytics.

Trish: Earlier, we mentioned that we created our own analytics platform in order to combine all our reporting metrics into one place. We named it Sortable Analytics. With near real-time data, our dashboards provide quick and accurate feedback on how site changes are affecting your earnings. 

You can change from high-level summaries to granular investigations in a single click. Sortable Analytics gives you the tools to measure and test the revenue impact of different traffic sources, content types, page layouts, and audience segments. Create your own customizable dashboards to gain insights relevant to your business.

Now that we have a better understanding of Sortable’s monetization solutions, let’s see them in practice.

Specifically, we’ll take a look at some of the common challenges that major publishers have faced, and go over how Sortable helped them find success.

Trish: First up is ScienceDaily, a content-focused site where they post about the latest discoveries in science, health, the environment, tech, and more. 

They were looking for a partner to manage their existing ad stack while managing their site monetization and partnerships so they could dedicate more time to writing their editorial content. 

Neera: This is a challenge we see with a lot of publishers. Understanding Ad Ops is time-consuming. It’s very easy to get frustrated with trying to understand how to optimize your site for your ads when what you should be doing is focusing on writing new content for your users. 

ScienceDaily was looking for a team to help them with: 

  • Creating direct and sponsorship deals with advertisers to diversify their revenue 
  • Getting knowledgeable support to address any issues that could impact their customers and optimize ad units for the best user experience 
  • And lastly, someone who could help them navigate the ad tech industry and plan for any changes in trends

Sortable and ScienceDaily collaborated in implementing different techniques like lazy loading, ad layouts, and A/B testing to minimize the effects of seasonality.

In the past year, ScienceDaily prioritized a strong user experience to their customers. Their team was dedicated to improving ad layouts and overall ad quality. With Sortable, ScienceDaily had the opportunity to focus on key areas of interest, like their users, ad tech trends, and quality editorial content.

Trish: By working with Sortable, ScienceDaily saw a significant increase of 19.8% eCPM from 2018 to 2019. They also saw an improvement with their ad revenue and impressions.

Trish: Moving on to Factinate. They are an editorial site focused on pushing out one interesting fact a day. They deploy a network of writers to research fact-based content for their website. 

As you can probably tell, their main focus is constantly creating new content. 

Unlike ScienceDaily, the co-founders at Factinate were fairly technical, so their challenge was to look for a self-serve solution to manage their ad operations, reporting, demand partners, and ad quality.

They wanted a partner that was responsive and had knowledgeable support of industry changes. 

They were also looking for accurate reporting and granularity to know what was working, and what wasn’t. 

And like most publishers, they needed access to quality demand partners bidding on their ad inventory.

Neera: Sortable identified areas for Factinate to optimize for viewability, particularly focused on technical changes and content strategy. This was possible through our analytics platform. As one of the few ad tech providers who offer session RPM granularity, Factinate was able to gain very specific information on metrics like revenue, sessions, page views, and viewability.

Trish: As a result, Factinate saw CPM organic growth of 60% and doubled session RPM over the course of just a year

If you’re interested in learning more about our publishers, you can take a look at some of the case studies at sortable.com/case-studies. 

Neera: Thanks, Trish. Now we’re going to wrap things up with a quick summary and move onto the Q&A.

To recap, Sortable is a publisher turned Ad Ops, a solution provider. Our goal is to empower publishers with the right tools and assistance in order to make the best decisions when it comes to maximizing your ad revenue.

Whether you’re looking for someone to handle your ad management for you, or you’re just looking for an extra boost for your existing Ad Ops team, we have a monetization solution for you. Coupled with our industry-leading analytics platform, you’ll be able to customize dashboards that fit your business needs.

We understand that Ad Ops is confusing. That’s why we have a dedicated onboarding team to help you throughout the implementation process and ready to answer any questions you may have about your ads.

Trish: Thanks for that, Neera. Now, before the webinar, we received a ton of questions from you and we’ll be answering the most common ones during this webinar. Any questions asked during the webinar, or any questions submitted beforehand that we didn’t get to during this Q&A will be responded to after the event. So without further ado, our first question is:

  1. How fast is the implementation time?

It depends on which monetization solution you choose. With Sortable Managed Services and Hosted, you can be up and running in as little as three to four weeks. For Sortable Select, the onboarding process can be from four to six weeks.

  1. Neera: Are you better than AdSense?

AdSense is a great start for new publishers who are just getting started and don’t have much traffic. But at some point, you will hit a wall once you’ve used their platform for a while. Especially as your monthly traffic starts to increase. This is related to another question we received, which asked what our minimum requirement was. We start at one million monthly page views. 

  1. Can you serve the best ads to my users?

We implement a variety of ad strategies like ad refresh, header bidding, and more in order to maximize your revenue. We combine these strategies with premium partners to connect you to high-value demand. Sortable also implements ad quality checks on our seats providing you piece of mind that will help serve the highest quality ads to your valued users.

Well, that’s the end of our first episode on the Sortable 101 series, Sorta-Who? 

If you’re interested in learning more about ad optimization strategies, check out our blog at sortable.com/blog. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about how Sortable can help your business, you can reach out to us at team@sortable.com

Trish: Thank you to everyone who came out and we hope that you learned something new about Sortable. See you next time!