What Do Ad Networks Look for When Doing a Site Review?

If you’re a publisher and have been investigating different ad networks, you’ve probably noticed that many of them require some type of site review before accepting you into their program. But what are they looking for, and is there anything you should know before submitting your site for review?

Every ad network has its own set of guidelines, but there are certain points that many of them will ask about for one reason or another. So, it’s a good idea to be ready with solid answers to the following questions.

How Much Traffic Does Your Site Receive Monthly?

Site TrafficOne of the first things you’ll be asked will be about your monthly pageviews. If you regularly track your site’s performance, this is probably something you can rattle off without even thinking about it.

Some networks, such as AdSense, don’t require you to meet any minimum traffic requirements, but others will want you to pass a certain threshold before they’ll even consider approving your site. This requirement could be expressed in terms of pageviews, visitors or sessions and may even specify these metrics be restricted to a specific geographic locale – e.g., U.S. pageviews.

Sometimes the minimum requirement won’t be explicitly stated because other factors come into play when an ad network is deciding whether or not to accept a publisher. That is, if your site’s focus is in a particular industry or if it attracts certain types of users, the ad network might be a little more flexible with its traffic requirements.

Are you really interested in a certain network, but worried that your site doesn’t meet its minimum traffic levels? Check into working with a partner (like Ezoic) who already has a relationship with the ad network, and these minimum requirements may be waived.

Who Visits Your Site?

Site DemographicsOn top of wanting to know how much traffic you’re getting on a monthly basis, some ad networks will want to know what kind of traffic your site is attracting. In particular, they’ll be interested in what countries your users are from as well as their gender and age distributions.

Ad networks may also want to know about the interests and affinity categories of your users. Are a large percentage of them technophiles and mobile enthusiasts or does your site resonate more with sports fans and movie lovers?

All of this information can be found in Google Analytics if you’ve implemented the Analytics tracking code on your site. Just expand the Interests section in the Audience grouping to view Affinity Categories and the Demographics section to view Age and Gender.

Google Analytics

Even if potential new advertisers and ad networks don’t ask for this information, it can be very helpful to review this data on a regular basis in order to better understand your audience.

You may also be asked about the engagement levels of your audience. This can mean different things to different people, but metrics like average pages per session, bounce rate and average session duration are often used to measure user engagement.

In addition to viewing this information in the Audience Overview in Google Analytics, you may also want to take a look at the Engagement data in the Behavior grouping. (See the example in the screenshot below.)

Google Analytics Engagement

What Type of Content Is on Your Site?

Site ContentBefore discussing what ad networks like to see in terms of content on your site, let’s talk about what they don’t want to see. Many networks have a list of prohibited content that includes things like adult content, extreme profanity and any material that promotes illegal activities. These items may vary depending on your geographic location. For an example, check out AdSense’s Prohibited Content Policy.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have any content of this type on your site, but it does mean you won’t be able to place ads from the network on any page that contains this material. So, if a significant portion of your site promotes this type of content, the ad network probably isn’t a good match for you.

Also, some ad networks may have concerns about sites with a lot of user-generated content (UGC), especially if it isn’t moderated closely. This is mainly because UGC is so unpredictable. Sometimes it’s very original and interesting, and other times it just violates copyright laws or other prohibited content guidelines.

On the other hand, ad networks do like sites that are updated on a regular basis with useful, informative content (as long as the subject matter isn’t on the network’s prohibited content list). Certain networks may prefer publisher sites that focus on specific verticals – such as education or finance – because they’re a better match for their current advertisers.

Ad networks also want to avoid publisher sites that promote or link to malware as well as those that are at high risk for being hacked. If you don’t regularly monitor your site, it could be infected and you may not even realize it.

Are you a WordPress user? Consider installing a security plugin to help protect you from potential threats in addition to performing regular updates of WordPress, your theme files and your plugins. Also, be sure to back up your site frequently so it can be easily restored if necessary.

How Susceptible Is Your Site to Ad Fraud?

In a study conducted by the Association of National Advertisers and White Ops, it was estimated that advertisers could lose approximately $7.2 billion globally to bots in 2016. Since ad networks want to give good service to both sides of the house – publishers and advertisers – they take click fraud and other issues related to invalid traffic very seriously.

If you want to go the extra mile to show ad networks and other potential advertisers that you are committed to fighting ad fraud, you may want to investigate using tools like Forensiq that monitor your site for suspicious activity.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Naturally, different networks and advertisers will be interested in other factors as well, but what they’re really looking for is evidence that your site is reputable, well-maintained and devoid of scams – and that you, as a publisher, are committed to keeping it that way. So, they may also check the age of your site and look at your traffic history to see if it has any unexpected bumps. That is, if you’ve been getting 25K to 30K pageviews a month for a year, and last month that number jumped to 100K, you might get some questions about why that happened.

Some ad networks may pay closer attention to the quality of the content on your site as well. Again, what they’re looking for here is to see if your site will be appealing to advertisers in the network. If they think you aren’t a good match for their network, don’t take it personally. In fact, this could end up working in your favor because it gives you the chance to look for other networks that are a better match. As a result, this could lead to a better experience for everyone involved – better ad earnings for you and better campaign results for those who advertise on your site.