The actions you take to increase your page RPM won’t necessarily have an immediate effect. When doing A/B tests to implement any of these recommendations, remember to use a significant sample size and let each experiment run for at least a week before evaluating the results.

There are three main areas which you can work on to improve page RPM: your own website, the ads that are shown on your site, and the audience which visits your site.

1. Focus on your content quality

It may be a cliché at this point, but focusing on your content quality is the foundation that will allow you to command a higher page RPM. Having strong content that your audience cares about has a waterfall effect on all the other metrics and optimisations. True, having great content is not a guarantee for success. We all know great publications with high-quality content on their niches that disappeared. But look at it from the other side: how many successful, sustainable sites you know have poor content?

2. Suggest relevant content to maintain user engagement

Content recommendation engines are designed to provide navigational pathways to related content to keep users engaged and increase their time on page and throughout the site. Increasing the number of page views will drive up your page RPM, as it increases the chance that the user will end up clicking on an ad.

3. Increase site speed and fix technical issues

Increasing your site and ads’ loading speed is a key factor for improving user experience and ad viewability. But you should also pay attention to any other technical issue which may hurt your performance, like mobile rendering issues or broken links. These technical issues have a gradual, accumulating negative effect on your SEO efforts, which will impact your page RPM as well.

4. Increase ad viewability

How effective is an ad that is not seen by the user? Not very effective. Increasingly, advertisers and publishers are using this metric to evaluate ad campaigns. There’s a growing trend among advertisers to pay only for their viewable impressions. According to eMarketer, ad viewability on a desktop is around 50%. This means that almost half of the advertising investment goes to ads that are never seen by anyone. For publishers, this means that if the industry would switch overnight to pay only for viewable impressions, they would lose an important part of their revenue. So, it’s in everyone’s interest then to take measures to increase ad viewability.  

According to our research, there’s a strong correlation between ad viewability and CPM, which means that increasing viewability will directly impact your page RPM. Reducing ad latency (increasing ad loading speed) is one factor that can impact ad viewability. Improving your ad layout and placement can also help you increase the viewability of your advertisements.

5. Optimize your ad formats and sizes

There are a variety of ad formats you can accept on your site: text, display, video, rich media or expandable ads are some of the options you have. Some ad formats command higher prices per click and impression. That doesn’t mean that switching all your ad inventory to video ads will allow you to increase your page RPM. You’d need to experiment and find the optimal combination of formats that can allow you to maximize your ad revenue.

There is also a variety of ad sizes which are defined and standardized by industry bodies like the IAB. The Interactive Advertising Bureau released in 2017 guidelines which are based on image proportions rather than fixed sizes. Some ad sizes are used more frequently by advertisers, which results in a higher competition. Implementing these ads would drive the CPC of your ads up, which would result in higher page RPM.  Some ad sizes are also more effective and have higher CPCs than others. You should conduct your own experiments to find out what ad size works best for you, but in general, wider advertising sizes tend to have higher CPC.

6. Diversify your ad networks

Fill rate is an online advertising metric that defines how many ad placements a publisher can fill with advertisements. You should aim to have a high fill rate to maximize your revenue potential.  Reaching 100% fill rate is impossible due to external factors like network issues or a visitor closing the site before the ad had time to load. One strategy to increase your fill rate is to work with an ad server that allows you to diversify your ad providers. You could serve first your own direct campaigns and then fill the rest of the ad placements with several ad networks. Doing this will allow you to serve the most profitable advertisement in each case, and also maximize your fill rate by having several options from where to serve an ad.

7. Use header bidding

Header bidding is a programmatic advertising technique that allows you to offer your ad space to multiple ad networks, which then bid for the opportunity to place an ad in your content. Allowing ad exchanges to compete for advertisement placements is an effective way to maximise your advertising revenue. Instead of selling your inventory to the biggest ad exchanges, which was traditionally done using the waterfall model of ad selling, you sell your space to the highest bidding exchange. Switching to header bidding from waterfall will also reduce ad loading times, increasing ad viewability and effectiveness.

8. Implement ad refresh

With ad refresh, you can serve multiple ads on the same advertising placement to the same user. After a condition is met, which can be time on page, an action performed by the visitor, or any other event, the current ad is refreshed and replaced with another different ad. You should only refresh the ad units which the user is currently viewing. Even though CPM for those impressions will be lower than for the first ad served, you will increase your page RPM.

9. Make sure the ads are relevant to your audience

Setting up the correct targeting for your users is a critical step to increase your page RPM. Showing relevant ads to your audience increases their effectiveness as they’re much more likely to click on an ad. You can set up different targets for different sections or topics of your website to increase the relevancy of your ads.

10. Deliver a great user experience for your readers

Your audience didn’t come to your site to be bombarded by ads and notifications. They came to access and consume the content you make. It’s difficult to quantify and measure, but great user experience will make your audience more engaged and loyal. Bounce rate and repeated visits are two metrics you can monitor to gauge improvements in user experience. Repeated visitors will increase your page RPM over time. It’s a more sustainable approach than suffocating your audience with ads or implementing obtrusive ad formats that interrupt the user on their task.

11. Optimize traffic for quality

Your traffic acquisition efforts should aim to increase traffic quality and not just quantity. Organic users are usually high-quality, as the reason they visit your site is that they found your content relevant to their search query. But depending on the content, you may see a different picture on your site. The best approach would be to build a profile of your referral sources and see which traffic source brings the most engaged users. You can use that profile to focus your traffic acquisition efforts on high-quality traffic sources. A highly engaged audience will be more attractive to advertisers, which will increase their bids for ads on your sites, increasing your page RPM.

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