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Hey there. 

I am wondering... what do you guys think is the best form of advertising on a forum?

Right now I have:

  • Programmatic advertising with banner ads. They are responsive ads - so they show different banners depending whether you're on mobile or desktop. 
    • I have one ad display below the header, one ad in the side bar, and one ad after the first post in a forum/topic.
  • I also have 'takeover' ads in effect - sometimes the entire page looks like an ad.
  • Video advertising with Teads tends to not be very effective. They say their ads don't perform well on sites that are UGC.

Often times, I don't even see ads display on my site because of, so I'm told, a frequency cap. Ads will stop displaying to certain people who frequent the forums a lot throughout the day. It seems weird that I'm being 'punished' for users returning and generating engagement / page views.

Does anyone have any recommendations for ad companies? What is the best kind of advertising for forums? What do you guys do / who do you use? 

Any insight / tips would be greatly appreciated.

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1 hour ago, breatheheavy said:

Hey there. 

I am wondering... what do you guys think is the best form of advertising on a forum?

Right now I have:

  • Programmatic advertising with banner ads. They are responsive ads - so they show different banners depending whether you're on mobile or desktop. 
    • I have one ad display below the header, one ad in the side bar, and one ad after the first post in a forum/topic.
  • I also have 'takeover' ads in effect - sometimes the entire page looks like an ad.
  • Video advertising with Teads tends to not be very effective. They say their ads don't perform well on sites that are UGC.

Often times, I don't even see ads display on my site because of, so I'm told, a frequency cap. Ads will stop displaying to certain people who frequent the forums a lot throughout the day. It seems weird that I'm being 'punished' for users returning and generating engagement / page views.

Does anyone have any recommendations for ad companies? What is the best kind of advertising for forums? What do you guys do / who do you use? 

Any insight / tips would be greatly appreciated.

How many page views do you have per month?  AdSense is the obvious place to start but there are much more advanced options including serving your ads via DFP (now called admanager).  Getting that set up in the beginning will greatly facilitate future scaling for direct sales as well as header bidding and more advanced features.  

Put ads at the bottom of your topics.   That will perform well. 728x90 on desktop. 300x250 on mobile.  On the desktop view ad 160x600 on the right (sticky only if allowed by network).

Edited by Fast Lane!
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1 hour ago, Fast Lane! said:

How many page views do you have per month?  AdSense is the obvious place to start but there are much more advanced options including serving your ads via DFP (now called admanager).  Getting that set up in the beginning will greatly facilitate future scaling for direct sales as well as header bidding and more advanced features.  

Put ads at the bottom of your topics.   That will perform well. 728x90 on desktop. 300x250 on mobile.  On the desktop view ad 160x600 on the right (sticky only if allowed by network).

Last month we had 1.2 million page views.

From my experience, Adsense does not pay as well as the ad networks I’m currently working with. I am using Monumetric. There’s header bidding I believe. 
 

Regarding the footer ad, if utilized, won’t two ads potentially appear because the sidebar ad on mobile appears at the bottom? 
 

A sticky ad on the sidebar on desktop... is that possible in IPB? 
 

Monimetric does not use passback. I feel my ad setup isn’t configured properly and am leaving money on the table, however I am not entirely sure what to do.

Thank you @Fast Lane! for responding!

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Here is what we do, at a high level.  We are fairly optimized but there are many alternate routes that can obtain great performance.  Ezoic is a good example.  Avoid passbacks -- use header/server-server bidding.  Passbacks kill CPM.

We leverage Google Ad Manager as our ad server (previously known as DFP).  We use header bidding via the opensource prebid.js script.  We have roughly 5 header bidding partners in the stack.  You have to negotiate these deals one by one and can get better splits with them (20-25%).  In addition to this we fold server-server bidding into the prebid header via both Amazon (UAM in this case, https://aps.amazon.com/aps/index.html) and Media.net.  Google adsense competes with everything on a price priority level.  Basically, Adsense has incredible fill (every impression almost always filled) but not always the highest rates (and they take a ~32% cut).  ref: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/180195?hl=en

If you are not familiar with header bidding (or server to server) it works like this.  On every page load the header bidding code (prebid.js for example) will query all your header bidding ad partners for them to "bid" on your on-page inventory in a "blind" fashion (best bid without knowing what anyone else bids).  As a part of your header, the server-server auction occurs as well where those ad networks/partners will provide their bids.  After a set time (typically you set to around 700ms or so) the auction ends and all bids are passed back to Google Ad Manager.  Google also then bids on your inventory (blind to the other bids).  The highest bid wins.  Since your header bidding ad partners typically pay more but have less "fill" you end up with a situation where they win say 10-30% of the time and pay you a lot more on a CPM basis (and you may negotiate a cut of 20-25% with them versus 32% to Adsense).  The rest of the time adsense will win and fill the remaining inventory.  The net effect is you make more.

If I had to pick one network to use if you don't have time for many others, then I'd probably pick Amazon UAM in concert with Admanager, with adsense set up in price priorty.  AUM has a solid set of ad networks they pull in, and they also allow direct Amazon ads (re-targeting, yay!) to your users which convert and hence pay well.  There are no pass-backs since in this config its actually all server-server bidding w/ Admanager and adsense competing on price priority.

So back to the forum.  Some ideas.

Mobile:

320x50 (or 100) ad above the topic but under the topic title.  300x250 ad under post 1.  Another 300x250 ad somewhere around post 8 (assume 15 posts per page).  300x250 ad under the last post but before the reply box.  On the index and forums pages, put a 320x50/100 at the top and one at the bottom.  On the forum index if you have tons of forums then place an ad in the middle between categories.

Desktop:

Do the above, but use 728x90 ads instead of 320x50/100 and 300x250.  Also ad a 160x600 ad unit on topic pages on the right.  Make sure (this is important) that in the Admanager code you have custom ad sizes for each browser width. This is important so when someone shrinks the screen and IPB hides the right column in the responsive view, that ad is not called on a page load.  That can be a major no no. You do this as follows in the page header (ref Google docs for more info.. this is just the key code elements):

for browsers wider than 980 pixels show the 160x600 pixel ad.  Else show nothing (no ad)

  	var mapping_skyscraper = googletag.sizeMapping().
  		addSize([980, 200], [160, 600]).
  		addSize([0, 0], []).
  		build();
    	googletag.defineSlot('/123456/Forums-Topic-Side', [160, 600], 'div-gpt-ad-123456-1').defineSizeMapping(mapping_skyscraper).addService(googletag.pubads());

Also, to show mobile ads versus desktop it is as simple as mapping like below, where above 768 pixels wide will show the 728x90 ad and below that will show a 300x250 ad unit (on page load):

  	var mapping_leader_rectangle = googletag.sizeMapping().
  		addSize([768, 200], [728, 90]).
  		addSize([0, 0], [300, 250]).

Now more advanced, you can do things like put conditional statements in the templates to not show certain ad units to members with post counts higher than some amount.  I find that useful to reward frequent posters.  Or you can filter by groups.  This is all custom but not that hard.

Hope that helps some.  I didn't proof my above notes too well so pardon any short hand or typos!

 

 

Note, I'm not sure on the UAM minimum page views to be accepted.  If they don't let ya in then you can certainly find many header bidding partners that will let you in.  

https://www.google.com/search?q=best+header+bidding+partners

Edited by Fast Lane!
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Note 2:  I directly edit the templates and don't use IPBs ad features.  It only slightly slows down upgrades but gives you more control IMO.  You most certainly need to do this to add anything to page headers, which is required for Ad Manager and prebid.

1 hour ago, breatheheavy said:

Regarding the footer ad, if utilized, won’t two ads potentially appear because the sidebar ad on mobile appears at the bottom? 

Set it not to show when the width is too small.  Also set the ad not to show (see my above note).

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14 minutes ago, Fast Lane! said:

Note 2:  I directly edit the templates and don't use IPBs ad features.  It only slightly slows down upgrades but gives you more control IMO.  You most certainly need to do this to add anything to page headers, which is required for Ad Manager and prebid.

Set it not to show when the width is too small.  Also set the ad not to show (see my above note).

I believe the prebidder is run through my ad company Monumetric. There’s a line of code I had to add to my theme’s header that calls for their script.

I’ll check out that option! 

what did you mean by this? 
 

Also set the ad not to show (see my above note).”

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26 minutes ago, Fast Lane! said:

  	var mapping_skyscraper = googletag.sizeMapping().
  		addSize([980, 200], [160, 600]).
  		addSize([0, 0], []).
  		build();

    	googletag.defineSlot('/123456/Forums-Topic-Side', [160, 600], 'div-gpt-ad-123456-1').defineSizeMapping(mapping_skyscraper).addService(googletag.pubads());

 

You need to make sure the ad is not called and shown (but hidden by css).

4 minutes ago, breatheheavy said:

I believe the prebidder is run through my ad company Monumetric. There’s a line of code I had to add to my theme’s header that calls for their script.

I’ll check out that option! 

what did you mean by this? 
 

Also set the ad not to show (see my above note).”

Do you know what folks are in your header bidding stack?  I'm sure they gave you an ads.txt so you should be able to see it there -- if not directly in the header.  They are likely taking a cut of the revenue is my guess.

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10 hours ago, Fast Lane! said:

You need to make sure the ad is not called and shown (but hidden by css).

Do you know what folks are in your header bidding stack?  I'm sure they gave you an ads.txt so you should be able to see it there -- if not directly in the header.  They are likely taking a cut of the revenue is my guess.

Oh gotcha! Ok I'll check this out today (hiding the ad). Thanks for the code!

I don't know who is in my header bidding stack. Monumetric handles all that, though I'm not super impressed with the revenue figures recently. They have a frequency cap - meaning if someone comes back a lot throughout the day they aren't shown ads. That seems very weird to me.

Yes, Monumetric and Bands In Town are taking a cut.

I have a ton of people in my ads.txt file. It's just piled over the years. 

I would love to have more control over my ads. I also feel like I should be making far more than what I am based off the traffic? @Fast Lane!

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18 hours ago, Fast Lane! said:

Not filling every impression is not great.  AdSense (or if they are large, AdX) should always cover your fill.

That's exactly what I'm thinking, too. Monumetric does not have passback. Just read your full message up top - I must have missed that somehow before. HUGE thanks for writing all that out. Your company manages the ads? I don't feel confident I have the time or experience to do that. Going to DM you if that's ok. @Fast Lane!

Edited by breatheheavy
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This is a good topic and thanks for sharing your experience. I'm using mostly adsense with a mix of amazon affiliate network, and some ad networks like pixfuture. I have a new ad network reaching out once a week but I just don't have time to keep switching around, probably better I just incorporate some bidding. I'm thinking of using google ad manager and building a new strategy and thanks to @Fast Lane! just looked at Amazon UAM and inquired. Not sure what their minimums are.

 

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49 minutes ago, AlexWebsites said:

This is a good topic and thanks for sharing your experience. I'm using mostly adsense with a mix of amazon affiliate network, and some ad networks like pixfuture. I have a new ad network reaching out once a week but I just don't have time to keep switching around, probably better I just incorporate some bidding. I'm thinking of using google ad manager and building a new strategy and thanks to @Fast Lane! just looked at Amazon UAM and inquired. Not sure what their minimums are.

 

Thanks!

Would this require you to manage your own ads?

Edited by breatheheavy
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Everything is posted in my first reply is set up once and then it runs automated. The only thing manual is if you have direct sales that you manage via DFP (Admanager).  I would always use Admanager up front since you will end up there if you scale.  AdSense is integrated. You can set it up to keep your reporting in AdSense. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/22/2020 at 7:26 PM, Fast Lane! said:

Everything is posted in my first reply is set up once and then it runs automated. The only thing manual is if you have direct sales that you manage via DFP (Admanager).  I would always use Admanager up front since you will end up there if you scale.  AdSense is integrated. You can set it up to keep your reporting in AdSense. 

I signed up with Ezoic after they reached out to me. I know you mentioned them in your initial comment as well! Cool coincidence.

I was wondering… Do you or does anyone here know how to insert an ad after five replies in the thread or after five topics in a forum? I have a plug-in for that but I believe it is outdated. I was wondering… Do you or does anyone here know how to insert an ad after five replies in the thread or after five topics in a forum? I have a plug-in for that but I believe it is outdated. What do people do in 2020?

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I agree with Fast Lane.

Header Bidding through Google Ad Manager.

Use Google Ad Exchange (Harder to get an account. If you have an account - create a line item and set to "optimized by dynamic allocation".)

Use Adsense as backup

Create Pricing Rules in Ad Manager (if you don't know what you are doing leave as-is)

---------

You have your 3+ header bidding partners competing at the top. 

You have Adsense and any other partners (min 2) competing at the bottom.

You then have to find partners to compete in the middle. This should be 100% fill. (It's hard to find but you can find them.)

The goal is to put pressure in the auction. The more pressure there is the better off you are.

Edited by GTServices
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16 minutes ago, GTServices said:

I agree with Fast Lane.

Header Bidding through Google Ad Manager.

Use Google Ad Exchange (Harder to get an account. If you have an account - create a line item and set to "optimized by dynamic allocation".)

Use Adsense as backup

Create Pricing Rules in Ad Manager (if you don't know what you are doing leave as-is)

 

You have your 3+ header bidding partners competing at the top. 

You have Adsense and any other partners (min 2) competing at the bottom.

You then have to find partners to compete in the middle. This should be 100% fill. (It's hard to find but you can find them.)

The goal is to put pressure in the auction. The more pressure there is the better off you are.

I was approved by google for an Ad X account, however everything else you said is a little unclear for me. I’m not sure what to do 😩

Are the rules relatively easy to setup? I’d love to be more knowledgeable with all of this because I feel there is money left on the table.

Also thanks for the reply! @GTServices

Edited by breatheheavy
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Ezoic and similar service providers will only do so much for you.

  1. Keep in mind that they have many customers (sites) under them. Some sites provide a higher return so they do prioritize. They spend more time on those sites vs your site.
  2. Some of these service providers do everything through their system. This is the worse setup. As you can't reap the rewards later when and if you cancel the service. You want them to do EVERYTHING through your Ad Manager account.
  3. This isn't free. They take a percentage off your earnings.

With that said, if you don't know what you are doing you are better off going with them. At the very least, they can help set everything up.

You can always cancel the service down the road.

NOTE: I'm just using Ezoic as an example because they were mentioned above. I am not familiar with how they run their business.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/21/2020 at 12:57 AM, Fast Lane! said:

If I had to pick one network to use if you don't have time for many others, then I'd probably pick Amazon UAM in concert with Admanager, with adsense set up in price priorty.  AUM has a solid set of ad networks they pull in, and they also allow direct Amazon ads (re-targeting, yay!) to your users which convert and hence pay well.  There are no pass-backs since in this config its actually all server-server bidding w/ Admanager and adsense competing on price priority.

I just got approved for Amazon UAM and will set it up over the next few days on one of my sites to give it a go.

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Can you guys share how you have your Google Ads (DFP) inventory setup, specifically if you have multiple properties (websites)? Are you using a top level parent ad unit per property like so:

Parent Ad Unit - Website 1
  Child Ad unit - Campaign

  • key-value - ad position 1
  • key-value - ad position 2
  • key-value - ad position 3
  • key-value - ad position 4

Parent Ad Unit - Website 2
  Child Ad unit - Campaign

  • key-value - ad position 1
  • key-value - ad position 2
  • key-value - ad position 3
  • key-value - ad position 4

Parent Ad Unit - Website 3
  Child Ad unit - Campaign

  • key-value - ad position 1
  • key-value - ad position 2
  • key-value - ad position 3
  • key-value - ad position 4

Or other type of setup maybe per section or placement? Just curious. 

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@AlexWebsites 

In the beginning, it was best to keep them separate but we no longer have to do that. The tools available to us today helps us to keep things simple.

We just have 1 set of ad units for all sites. 

Today, it's simple to do reports based URLs (sites), key-values (ie. URLs, Page, Usergroup...), etc. 

TIPS:

If you have AdX and Adsense, make sure AdX is set to "Default for Dynamic Allocation" (Admin > Linked Accounts)

(Just make sure because some accounts that had Adsense approved before AdX may have Adsense set to Dynamic Allocation. If this happens to you, you could be losing a lot of money.)

A key-value can be a url, usergroup, page, etc. It can be anything that you want to target. For example, you want to target a specific usergroup with a campaign. Or, maybe you want to target a group of members based on a custom Profile Fields. (This is very handy when a specific customer wants to target a specific group of people on your site.)

Keep your naming convention simple for ad units, rules, etc.  

For ad units, I use the standards when naming my units:

  • ros_leaderboard
  • ros_medrec
  • ros_largerec
  • ros_skyscraper
  • ros_halfpage
  • ros_banner
  • ros_mobile
  • ros_sticky
  • etc

If you require 2 leaderboard ad units on the page, I recommend being specific on the 2nd. For example, name it post_leaderboard ... for another medrec found below the fold, name it bot_medrec, etc.

You can use the same naming convention for Price Rules. 

Naming is very important. You look at the name and it tells you everything you need to know. 

(Keep in mind that your site design may change frequently but you shouldn't do the same with ad units.)

Create Price Rules per ad units. Learn everything you can about price rules.

Use Header Bidding and Adsense (alongside your Ad Manager setup) to put pressure on the auction

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6 hours ago, GTServices said:

We just have 1 set of ad units for all sites. 

Thanks for sharing! So all your media partners through ADX you run for all your sites? Same ad code for all sites? My only concern is that if I have a specific ad agency I'm working with who desires ads only on one site, I would want to be able to target that. Are you saying that you are targeting with key-values if needed?

Also, how are you working with responsiveness, are you using IPS classes to serve the appropriate tag or are you building responsive ad placements in ADX with .sizeMapping?

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  • 2 weeks later...
9 minutes ago, GTServices said:

I'm sorry. I missed this.

You can target via key-values.

eg. url = domain.com
eg. url = /this-is-a-specific-page/
eg. page = "This is a specific page title"

Yes, I use sizeMapping.

Thanks for sharing. I guess there are different ways of doing this and if my placements are all the same across all my properties, I can target each domain with a key value. The ad fill/purchase can then be directed to that key value if specific to a domain and not all, correct? 

I guess my hangup or overthinking, is running multiple websites under the same account effectively when they may have different ad agency partners and such.

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