For the past 7 years the web gaming industry has seen its ups and downs and most of the times it had something to do with monetisation. Given that a lot of the mini gaming content is web based, most monetisation strategies involved using advertising to get the most out of every user. In these 7 years I’ve had the chance more than once to test a lot of systems, agencies, strategies, methods and schemes all related to online advertising.
Since we started IDEA Studios, one of my personal areas of interest was how to get more money out of our users using established systems and ad agencies. This meant getting into the digital advertising world and testing ad delivery systems like OpenX, Google DFP, BuySellAds, Webspectator, AdOcean and a few more I won’t mention for this post’s length sake in order to use the one that fitted our needs the most and here are my findings and tips when choosing a certain technology for delivering your digital advertising:
1. Chose a product that has great support
Delivering ads is not an easy task and you will most likely need support when developing your own product while implementing third party software like ad tags. Not having this type of support can cause a company a lot of pain and wasted time especially when you are expected to start a campaign tomorrow.
For normal display banners ( IAB ) most ad servers will do the job and work right out of the box but those banners are losing ground to rich media ads and this is where extended support might be needed since their implementation differs from normal banners and not having the right person to talk to and ask for advice can slow down the whole implementation process.
2. Faster ad serving wins
Over the past few years ad delivery evolved quite a bit and we were lucky enough to be part of that evolution, even if we were spectators at this technological advancement. Currently everything that happens in a browser is closely tied to the speed at which it can perform and the feedback given to the user has to be instantly. An ad server has to deliver ad in that manner ( or faster ) in order to be useful. Still in 2015 we have a lot of publishers using page blocking advertising tags that make a page very difficult to properly render when loading causing page lags and just a bad experience overall. The lighter the ad serving process the more users will still come back for more content. One of the reasons why ad-blocking tech exists ( which by the way happens to cause aprox ~$22bn / year in advertising loss ) is to stop the page blocking software the clogs the page when loading ( think about it ) – not because of the ads themselves.
Over the past few years our winner was Google DFP for several reasons one of which was it’s asynchronous way of delivering ads. That’s the best we got until recently.
3. Be light in the ad code implementation
Ok, you found the server that best fits your company’s needs, you learn it by spending hours mastering its functions and APIs and then you have to go implement it. More often than not the web development team is not part of your ad operations team and it takes time to first understand how the ad server piece of software works and then to actually find the time to implement it, test and then deploy it live. This is where Webspectator gets my personal gold medal since out of all ad servers, implementing this one requires the least amount of code and can be actually done via the Google Tag Manager if needed so even less coding skills neded. Everything is done in the admin panel via CSS selectors and it works like a breeze.
4. Make sure it uses the latest tech
The vast majority of ad server today rely on a fairly accepted practice when serving their ad content: http requests ( ask server > get response > receive banner > render ). This is a widely supported method as it relies on a web simple http standard and when it’s asynchronous it’s even better. But it’s not the latest. Websocket ad delivery is and it’s faster and with less overhead when requesting the ad and makes the ad serving more.. beautiful…er without clogging the page and ruining the user experience.
To sum things up for this post, in order to save yourself some headache when serving digital advertising ( now mobile as well > do consider it ) you have to:
1. Choose an ad server that is backed by a great company with great support ( ask around to take an educated decision )
2. Test the ad serving speed and pick the fastest one available at a decent cost / benefit ratio
3. Look for the least intrusive ad implementation method in your templates or app
4. Leverage the latest advancements in browser technology to make the most out of your ad server
If you’ve got questions or ideas, just write them up.