How To Start Testing Ads

Start testing ads and find the best combinations 

If you’re using an adserver, you have your ‘waterfall’ of passback tags set up and everything is humming along nicely.  You’re happy with your ad networks and you are confident that your current set-up is a good one.  So why start testing ads — things like ad positions or ad location can’t possibly matter that much, right?  Wrong… at least according to data and science.

start testing ads

What the data shows…

Why test navigation features?  Isn’t ad income yield all about the quality of the ad network or ad exchange (the quality of the advertisers)?  Do the locations of the ads on the page really matter that much?

This article digs into data that reveals why ad testing can make a huge difference and how you can start testing ads.

The world is changing — your site needs to as well.

While easy navigation and niche keywords are the optimization tactics that first come to mind, there are a number of other ways to optimize a website’s performance that may not be so obvious. Specifically, focusing on ad positions and ad sizes; which have a proven effect on ad earnings and can also change the way users interact with your site.

As the online landscape continues to change at a lightning fast speed it is becoming increasingly more difficult to test ad positions reliably (see the rise of mobile ads and how they are changing user metrics)

User Ad Blindness / Publisher Ad Blindness

Which ad positions are better?

start testing ad optimization

The first thing you think of when placing ads, is where should they go? Well-placed ads can have a huge impact on the revenue you can extract from those ads.

Relying on the personal bias of “this looks good” could be selling yourself short, as you may naturally gravitate to certain areas on the site where you think ads won’t be intrusive.  Look at the differences this site made after multivariate ad testing on every device…

start ad testing make money

No one wants to spam the users away after all, but finding the ‘best’ ad positions for that screen size means looking at the site from the perspective of a new user. Unfortunately, once you’ve poured over your site numerous times (for years!) it is almost impossible to view the site in the same way that a real user would. Look at the differences this site made on ever

Additionally, most publishers are looking at all of this desktop — when statistically speaking — most users are now visiting on mobile.

Start Testing Ads & Improve Your Site

If you start testing ad positions and sizes on your site methodically you’ll be able work out which positions are optimal for various screen sizes and which are the best positions for your site, therefore removing the constraints of personal preferences.

When users return to a site over and over again they may develop ad blindness, also called banner blindness. Ad blindness is a phenomenon in which users stop taking notice of ads.

They begin to ignore them and perceive them as a static image on the page. This is much like taking the same route to work everyday and arriving without having even realized the time that’s passed. The brain consolidates that information as unimportant.

By testing different ad positions and sizes users will be awakened by the changes on the site, no matter how small, and will be more likely to notice the ads and therefore click on them, which means more revenue for publishers.

Ad sizes and positions can make all the difference to ad revenue

ad optimization

Testing ad sizes and positions on your site manually is certainly an option, but it’s also a huge undertaking. If you were to place five ad units on one page of your site, with three ad sizes for each you would have 3,003 combinations. That would take hours upon hours of testing.

If you wanted to up the ante and put the minimum number of units Ezoic suggests for ample testing, which is 15, then you would have, 1,221,759 combinations (here is the full list of combinations).

That number only goes up when more sizes are added to the mix. And, that is only for one page! Since users react differently to various pages, you would need to do that for each page individually to optimize fully. That’s a lifetime’s work that can be handed over to a system that was built to do exactly those tests.

Keeping up with new technology can be extremely time-consuming

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As things change quickly in the online world, staying up to date with new technology is more important than ever. Can you name every type of device out there? Can you name every browser? Do you know what your site looks like in each of them?

It may seem absurd to know and interact with each of these options, but not doing so can have big repercussions on revenue. If ads go off the page or configure strangely on a mobile device then users are more likely to bounce off the page, which equates to lost revenue.

Instead of checking that your site works properly on every browser when new iPhone software comes out, wouldn’t you prefer a computer do that for you. Ezoic keeps up with the ever changing market and trends among the many types of devices and browsers. The system will make sure that your ads display correctly on each of them, so you don’t have to.

Revenue changes based on how ads interact with each other – good combinations are key

testing ad locations

If you’ve ever done ad position testing you may have noticed something very interesting happens when you add a new unit to the mix – your other ad units may generate less revenue.

This is because every ad on the page dilutes the other ads to an extent. This incites quite a dilemma; not only do you have to worry about ad positions, but also the ad sizes and how they interact with each other. A large horizontal banner ad may do very well on its own, but if you don’t start testing ads it is impossible to know how implementing a skyscraper ad on the right sidebar will affect it.

With ad testing, you can find out if that sidebar ad is the best way to go, or if a square ad underneath the first paragraph is a better arrangement. 

Having ad combinations that users interact positively with is certainly important, but there’s more to ad sizes than just that. The ability to change ad sizes dynamically also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of advertisers who are producing various sized ads.

While larger ads typically cost more, there are also less advertisers looking to buy large ad space. With the ability to change ad sizes on your site automatically you will be able to cash in when an advertiser wants to buy a 970×250 large billboard ad, but won’t have to leave that unit open all the time.

When there is no demand for such a large ad the unit will be filled by another ad size that you’ve selected as appropriate for that position. This flexibility will keep your ad units filled with ads that will get you the best revenue.

test ad combinations to stop earnings drop

Assessing success of your site in terms of ad revenue

Many publishers look at the success of their website as RPM (revenue per thousand page views), but there are other ways to judge the success of a site. The way Ezoic evaluates revenue is through EPMV (earnings per thousand visitors). While RPM reports the earnings per page, EPMV reports the earnings per session. The benefit of this is that when users visit more pages they will generate more revenue for your site. However, the revenue per page may drop in response to this. Here is an example to better explain.

A site that gets 50k visits a day could follow either of the following scenarios

1)   RPM of $6.00

Page Views Per Visit: 1.5

50k visits * 1.5 pv/v

=75k page views

75k page views at $6 RPM

=$450 a day



2)   RPM $5.00

Page Views Per Visit: 2.5

50k *2.5 pv/v

=125k page views

125k page views at $5 RPM

=$625 a day


As you can see, EPMV gives a better overall picture of the site’s health. But what does this have to do with ad position testing? Well placed, non-intrusive ads can keep users on your site longer and therefore viewing more pages. The effective drop in RPM can be jarring, but when you look at the big picture, it’s benefiting both you and the users.

There are many ways to monetize- do you know which ones works best for your site?

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There are many ways to monetize your site, including serving ads from ad networks/exchanges, native ads, in-line ads, affiliate links, and the list goes on. Once you’ve established if a certain type of ad works for your site, you then have to figure out how it will work alongside other types of ads. “How many lines of native ads should I have alongside display ads for best user experience?” is just one of the questions that can be answered by testing.

Let’s wrap it up!

It can be difficult to embrace the changes that your site will undergo, but if you start testing ads you are bound to make significant strides in your ad revenue.