How to Create an Ad Monetization Strategy: A Complete Guide

How to Create an Ad Monetization Strategy: A Complete Guide


Your ad monetization strategy is the approach you take to earn ad revenue from your site. Specifically, it includes decisions like what ad tech and ad formats you use, the demand sources you connect to, and the way ads are laid out on your site. Every individual site will have a specific approach and setup that’s most profitable, depending on factors including their user GEO, vertical, and type of content.

As a result of these multiple factors, it can be complex and time-consuming for publishers to design and implement a custom ad strategy by themselves. It typically takes years of experience working with ads to understand and choose the right approach. Plus, ad setups require regular optimization to ensure they remain as profitable as possible.

That’s why publishers often work with ad monetization partners such as Snigel who provide ad ops experts to help craft and optimize a strategy. Our ad ops specialists have experience working with hundreds of different sites across many different verticals. We can help you build and implement a unique ad strategy that maximizes the revenue of your site.

In this guide, we set out the questions to ask when building your own ad strategy, as well as some specific strategies to improve your ad revenue. Then, we’ll share in detail how Snigel works with publishers.

Snigel is a full-service ad management platform using dedicated account management and AI-powered ad tech to help publishers optimize their ad setup. For a free assessment of your site, get in touch with us

4 Questions to Ask to Guide Your Custom Ad Monetization Strategy

Your ad strategy involves identifying and implementing the right ad setup for your site’s audience and content and your monetization goals. To build the custom strategy that works best for your site, there are 4 questions you should consider:

  1. How aggressive do you want your ad strategy to be?
  2. What will be your strategy for mobile vs desktop?
  3. What GEO are your users from?
  4. What vertical are you in?

There’s no single right answer to these questions. Instead, each consideration should be balanced against the others. For instance, not every site in the lifestyle vertical will demand the same ad setup, as the best types of ads to use will depend on what GEO their users are located, the devices they’re using, and other factors.

Let’s take a look at each of these questions in detail.

1. How will you balance user experience and monetization?

One of the key decisions you need to make when building your ad strategy is how you want to balance maximizing ad revenue with optimizing the user experience (UX).

Different publishers sit at different places on this spectrum. Some want to squeeze as much revenue as they can from their ad setup. Others want to provide users with an optimal UX, even if that means sacrificing some revenue. While there is some flexibility, an overly aggressive ad strategy will deter users and harm your SEO rating over time. On the other hand, a balanced setup will be the most beneficial in terms of site growth and revenue growth long-term.

Two of the most important factors to consider when balancing user experience and monetization are:

  • The number of ads. More ads does not necessarily mean more revenue. If you fill your site with ads, you could slow down your site and negatively affect your core web vitals. This would in turn have a significant impact on your SEO performance. So, not only does using too many ads affect your UX, but it can also impact your revenue.
  • What your particular user base can tolerate. Typically, older demographics are less tolerant of ads than those who are younger. If your target audience is above 50, you may need to have fewer ads than sites with a younger demographic.
  • Types of ads. Some websites will be better suited for display over video ads, for example.  There’s a wide variety of ad types to choose from (depending on the ad tech available to you), so most publishers can use a mix of ad types to increase revenue.

One way to improve your ad revenue while reducing the impact on your site speed or user experience is to use higher value ads. We’ll discuss these in detail below.

2. What will be your strategy for mobile vs desktop?

Ads appear differently depending on the device from which users access your site. You will likely need a separate strategy for each device, as what works well on desktop will often overwhelm mobile users.

Mobile devices have smaller screens and less processing power, so they perform better with smaller ads in lightweight formats. This prevents the page from slowing down and stops users from getting frustrated with too many ads. On the other hand, desktops simply have more space in which to show more ads, meaning you can earn more revenue without affecting your UX.

However, if you limit the ads you show to desktop users to your mobile ads, then you’ll miss out on potential revenue. That’s why we say that each individual device deserves its own separate strategy, so that all users get the best experience possible, and you earn the most ad revenue.

3. What GEOs are your users from?

The country your users are accessing your site from affects your ad strategy in two main ways:

  • Firstly, different GEOs have different internet speeds, which affect the way that ads load to users. In GEOs with slower internet speeds (i.e. Tier 3 GEOs, typically), you should take more care to ensure that your ad setup doesn’t frustrate users by taking too long to load. Using lighter ad formats — such as display ads over video ads — is a good strategy in this case.
  • Secondly, different supply-side platforms (SSPs) perform better in different GEOs. SSPs connect publishers with advertisers, but many SSPs work exclusively with advertisers, in particular GEOs. As a publisher, you’ll need to select and apply to the specific SSPs that suit your audience best.

Find out more: 20+ Best SSPs for Publishers — The Ultimate One-Stop Guide

If your users come from multiple GEOs, it’s best to design and implement a separate ad strategy for each one. This way, you can create the optimal setup for Tier 3 GEOs while still using higher-value ads for your Tier 3 audience.

4. What vertical are you in?

The vertical of your site affects your ad strategy in two key ways.

Firstly, just as with different GEOs, some SSPs perform better in particular verticals. For instance, some are geared specifically towards eCommerce sites, lifestyle blogs, or gaming.

Finding the right SSP for your vertical helps you access more specific demand and more relevant ads for your site. This can often mean that you will earn higher costs-per-mille (CPMs), as advertisers may be willing to pay more to show ads on sites that they know will be relevant.

However, for most publishers, it’s often better to connect with multiple SSPs, including some that are vertical-specific and some that are more general. This way, publishers can access the highest bid from a greater number of advertisers.

The second consideration is that your vertical typically affects the layout of your content and site, which in turn affects the most profitable layout of your ads.

For instance, if you publish long-form content (such as lifestyle blogging), you can maximize your ad space by using auto in-content ads (which automatically injects ads at regular intervals throughout the content). However, if you publish short reference-style content (such as weather or games sites), you’ll want to focus on fast-loading ads placed above the fold.

However, ads often perform differently depending on the specific site. So, it’s important to test and optimize your ad setup over time to see what performs best.

Find out more: Header Bidding Optimization: A Comprehensive Guide

4 Strategies to Maximize Your Ad Revenue

The questions above will help you guide your ad monetization strategy. But as we’ve said, the specific approach that works best will be unique for every site.

It’s one reason why building a custom ad strategy can be so time-consuming. You need to find and test the specific combination of ads, layouts, and SSPs that bring in the most revenue. Plus, you’ll also need to monitor your setup over time to ensure that your initial strategy remains the best approach. As the ad tech and advertisers you work with can change, it’s important to assess whether to adjust your approach.

With this in mind, here are 4 strategies you can use to optimize your ads for highest revenue, both as you design your initial strategy and adjust it in the future.

1. Connect with Multiple Demand Sources

Demand sources are where the ads come from that are shown on your site. It’s the general term for platforms such as SSPs, ad networks, or ad exchanges, where your ad inventory is auctioned to advertisers.

As we mentioned above, different demand sources often perform better depending on the vertical and GEO in which you operate. However, choosing a demand source isn’t as simple as finding one that serves your niche. Rather, picking a single demand source won’t always bring you the highest CPMs, because it reduces the competition you could get from having multiple advertisers, exchanges, or sources bidding on your ad space.

But choosing which SSPs to connect to by yourself is complex. Firstly, you need to assess which you’re eligible for and then negotiate a revenue share deal with them. Then, once you work with them, you may find that some specific SSPs don’t often win bids — meaning that they’re slowing down your site without increasing the CPMs you receive.

It’s a lot of work, and that’s why many publishers prefer to use a header bidding partner like Snigel to connect to multiple demand sources. Header bidding allows publishers to benefit from having multiple SSPs bidding on their ad space, so they can access the highest CPMs offered.

On average, publishers see a 57% increase in ad revenue when switching from a single demand source and connecting to multiple ad exchanges with Snigel. But we’ll also help you understand which SSPs to connect and monitor their performance to help you achieve the highest CPMs.

2. Increase Your Ad Viewability to Access Higher CPMs

Ad viewability is one of the most important factors to advertisers when it comes to determining how valuable publishers’ ad space is.

Advertisers want to ensure their ads are actually seen by users, so they’re interested in how viewable the ad is. An ad that’s “viewed” is one that has at least 50% of its area visible for at least a second for display ads, or two seconds for video ads. Ads that are more viewable are more likely to achieve higher CPMs from advertisers.

There are three main ways you can improve your ad viewability:

  • Choose ad formats with higher viewability. Some types of ads earn higher CPMs because they stay on screen for longer. For instance, sticky sidebar ads stay in view as the user scrolls down the page, while rewarded ads engage the user with rewards.
  • Adjust your ad layout to maximize viewability. You might find that by moving banner ads up the page, you get more impressions and higher CPMs from advertisers. You won’t know this in advance, so it’s important to test your ad layout to see what performs best.
  • Use a smart refresh to boost impressions. Ad refreshes solve a common problem with conventional ads. Typically, ads load just once, when a user opens the page. That means even if a user stays on a page for a long time, they see just the one ad. Ad refresh reloads the ad periodically, usually in intervals of multiple seconds. Snigel’s smart refresh instead reloads ads based on certain triggers, including time intervals, when users scroll down a page, or when they switch back to the page from another tab. Overall, Snigel’s smart ad refresh can increase ad revenue by 6%.

3. Consider Video Ads and Other High-Value Ad Formats

There are many different ad formats that publishers can use on their site. As in other parts of your strategy, you should select those formats that earn the highest CPMs without negatively affecting your UX.

One of the most important considerations here is choosing between display ads and video ads. Snigel’s video ads can increase your ad revenue by 23% compared to display ads. However, they won’t be a good fit for every site. The quality of video ads is significantly affected by internet speeds, so the user’s GEO and device will have a big impact on whether you can use them. Similarly, some site layouts just don’t have space for video ads.

Other ad formats to consider to bring additional revenue to your site include:

  • Adaptive ads. These automatically switch between different ads within a single ad placement based on which size and number of ads will earn more revenue overall (for example, two small ads for CPMs of $0.90 or a larger single ad for $1.60). It can increase revenue by 10–30%.
  • Super adhesive ads, which display large ads in a smaller ad space. These can increase revenue by 20+%.
  • Interactive ad units. These tend to earn higher CPMs because they encourage users to engage with the ad, meaning that they tend to have more impressions. They increase revenue by an average of 3%.

Not all sites can use all of these different ad types. Crucially, if you want to deploy these ad formats on your site, you often need to work with an ad partner such as Snigel that supports them. You can find out more about which ad formats we use below.

4. Deploy Other Ad Tech (such as AI Floor Prices)

Publishers can also deploy different ad technologies to improve the results and revenue they get from their ads.

For instance, lazy loading ads delay when the ad creative loads, particularly for those ads lower down the page that aren’t viewable until the user scrolls down. Preventing all ads from loading at the same time improves page speed.

Another useful ad technology to use is adblock recovery. This means that you can still get revenue from ads even if users are using an ad blocker. It works by switching between adblock-compliant ads and higher paying ads, depending on the individual user’s settings. It can increase revenue by over 10%.

If you’re connecting with multiple SSPs through header bidding, it’s beneficial to use ad tech to configure your auction settings. For example, price floors are the lowest CPMs that advertisers can bid on your inventory. However, many advertisers use tools for bid shading to try to find the lowest bid possible. Implementing dynamic price floors combats this practice by regularly changing the bid floors.

Again, while these technologies can have a significant impact on your ad revenue, not all ad monetization partners support them. To maximize your revenue, choose a partner like Snigel.

How Snigel Takes Care of Your Ad Monetization Strategy for You

For most smaller publishers, creating a custom ad strategy is often too complex and time-consuming to do by themselves. As you’ve seen, there are many different factors to consider and balance, and most publishers’ skills are not in setting up and optimizing ads.

When you partner with Snigel, our team of ad experts will manage the entirety of your ad strategy for you, from design to implementation and optimization.

Our ad ops specialists are highly experienced in working with many different sites and we can help you find the most profitable setup for your specific audience, vertical, and goals.

Setup is always informed by your own goals and priorities for monetization — whether you want to grow traffic, maximize revenue, or maintain an optimal UX.

For example, DeviceTests wanted to achieve a well-rounded ad setup that not only maximizes revenue but also delivers an exceptional user experience, maintains strong core web vitals, and promotes growth in site traffic.

We helped them to improve their pageviews and revenue by implementing lazy loading, dynamic price floors, and smart refresh. As a result, we helped to increase their traffic by 13%, while they also experienced an impressive 180% growth in revenue.

Alongside custom strategic support, we also provide:

  1. Additional advanced ad tech, to enable you to reach the highest CPMs.
  2. Ongoing monitoring and testing, to optimize your setup and find new opportunities for growth.

1. Advanced Ad Tech

We help publishers use a combination of the following ad formats and bid technology, depending on your specific site:

  • Adaptive ads. Snigel’s AI fills designated ad spaces with whatever size (and number of) ads produce the highest revenue. Adaptive ads can increase revenue by 10–30%.
  • Super adhesive formats let you display larger ads (which typically earn higher CPMs) in smaller spaces by having the ad move to follow the user’s scrolling. Super adhesive formats can increase revenue by 20+%.
  • Interactive ad units engage users by inviting them to take a quiz, fill out a poll, or interact with the ad in another way. Interactive ad units tend to have more views and higher CPMs, and they can increase revenue by 3%.
  • Smart Refresh refreshes the ad in an ad space after certain intervals if a user stays on the page. Smart Refresh can increase revenue by 6%.
  • Adblock recovery enables you to find ads that are compliant with a user’s adblock settings, so you always get some revenue from your traffic. Adblock recovery can increase your revenue by 10+%.
  • AdStream lets you display high-quality native video ads on your website in a variety of formats. AdStream can increase revenue by 23%.
  • Dynamic floor pricing automatically adjusts floor prices every hour to combat bid shading, which means you get higher CPMs. Dynamic floor pricing can increase revenue by 5%. 
  • AI bidder optimization switches bidders between client- and server-side header bidding, alongside matching users with the best bidders for their country, device, and browser. AI bidder optimization improves load speeds and revenue potential and can increase revenue by 7+%.

2. Ongoing Monitoring and Testing

Unlike many other ad monetization partners, Snigel’s ad ops specialists remain a part of your team after strategy and set up, to ensure your ads remain as profitable as they can be. We do this in 3 ways:

  • Monitoring. We check in regularly to monitor your ad setup’s performance. Immediately after setup, we look at your revenue and UX metrics every week to ensure the best performance. After we’ve found the optimal setup, we’ll monitor your site about every 3 weeks, so we can be sure you’re earning as high CPMs as possible.
  • Testing. We regularly test different ads and technologies to ensure that you continue to benefit from the optimal setup. For instance, we run A/B tests on a proportion of your traffic to see how new technologies perform.
  • Troubleshooting. Sometimes, new ad tech can affect the performance and functionality of your site. As part of our regular monitoring, we ensure that we solve any problems resulting from your ad setup.

Partner with Snigel to Design and Implement Your Custom Ad Strategy

When it comes to ads, there’s no one-size-fits-all setup that works best for every site. The setup that’s most profitable will depend on your audience, your vertical, and the kind of content you publish.

Building an ad monetization strategy helps you define and implement the most profitable approach to your ads. You can create, execute, and optimize that strategy all by yourself, but it can be a lot of work. The alternative is working with a header bidding partner such as Snigel.

Our dedicated ad ops specialists will build, implement, and monitor your ad strategy for you. And our strategy will always be based on your goals — whether you want to maximize revenue or balance it with optimal UX.

Get in touch for a free assessment with Snigel.

About the Author

Ira is Snigel's Head Of Marketing. She supports our team and publishers by creating awesome guides on the latest adtech trends. Ira's background is in software development, communications, and media.

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