The Google Ad Exchange (also called AdX or Google Adx) is a topic that seems to be gaining interest amongst website publishers, and existing AdSense users, keen to ensure that they are getting the best price for their advertising inventory. For those who might not already know, AdX is the more manageable name for The Google Ad Exchange.
Acquired as part of the DoubleClick acquisition, AdX is seen by many as, the “Google AdSense Plus”, although there are key differences between the two programmes. With reports of the higher earnings creating more and more interest in AdX we decided to explain some of those key differences and what they mean for publishers.
What is an Ad Exchange?
An Ad Exchange is a real time marketplace that puts buyers and sellers together to trade in digital advertising space in an open and transparent way. The exchange brings demand and supply together from a number of sources and allows for bids to be made in real time.
How is this different to AdWords / AdSense?
Ad Exchanges (including AdX) are fundamentally different to the AdWords/AdSense infrastructure in a way that the “AdSense Plus” moniker doesn’t reflect. For the publisher though, the most important differences can be grouped under a few headings:
More demand sources
When you make your advertising space available through Google AdSense you are offering it to AdWords advertisers. AdWords is a massive network, but it is just one network. AdX uses a number of demand sources: Ad Networks, Agencies, Retargeters and the brands themselves in addition to AdWords.
Some of those demand sources can lead to higher bids, but here are other advantages to higher demand. Just like AdSense, AdX uses a second-price auction model. That means that more demand should lead to higher rates thanks to the magic of upwards auction pressure.
AdX is all CPM
When you deal with advertising rates in the Google Ad Exchange you are working in CPM rather than CPC. Advertisers don’t like paying for inventory that doesn’t bring results, so you should still be mindful of how your units perform, but the CPM means working a little differently. Attracting brand advertisers willing to pay high CPM rates can pay dividends to quality sites that have a sought-after audience but low click through rates.
Real Time Bidding (RTB)
Within AdWords advertisers set their bid prices when then create or update their campaigns. In AdX this is done in real time. Bid prices fluctuate continually, allowing savvy buyers to grab a bargain and savvy sellers to maximise their rates.
Floor rates – Set your own minimum price
AdX allows sellers to set their own floor prices, the minimum CPM that will be accepted for an impression. Rules can be created to enforce different minimum bids based on a dizzying set of criteria covering the end user, the inventory and the advertiser to help the seller achieve the full value for any impression. Whilst this sounds like a license to print money, setting floor rates too high results in unsold inventory so the balance needs to be found.
There are a lot more controls within AdX. Those controls give a skilled operator the tools that they need to get closing prices and close as possible to the highest bid as well as encouraging higher bids. Those same controls give a less skilled operate a lot of latitude to have the opposite effect.
AdX requires a lot more attention
Most AdSense publishers know that they should be optimising their inventory, but don’t do it as often as they know they should. With AdSense that is fine, it’s a very forgiving platform and will generally perform OK without too much work. AdX is rather less forgiving. The combination of the speed at which bids change and the complexity of the controls means that it needs continual management. For most AdX publishers OKO work with, we are checking performance and making changes at least once per day, often several times.
Is your site right for AdX?
AdSense and AdX exist as separate products for a good reason – some sites are far better suited to one over the other. Most websites will generate more earnings by being well managed on the Google Ad Exchange than they would with Google AdSense alone. However those gains need to be balanced against the earnings potential of the website. If your website is only making a few hundred dollars a month then the gains from moving AdX are not likely to warrant the additional work involved.
Selling your inventory on the Google Ad Exchange?
Inclusion on the ad exchange is by invite only and reserved for very large publishers. More modestly sized publishers can get access to the exchange by working with an Ad Exchange partner, like OKO. As AdX Network Partner Managers we can sell your ad inventory on the Google Ad Exchange on your behalf. We manage your inventory on the exchange as part of our network, ensuring that it gets expert attention to get you the highest price possible. We do all the work of AdX management and optimisation, allowing you to concentrate on running your website. In exchange we take a straight forward cut of earnings (usually far smaller than the revenue increases we achieve for publishers).
AdX vs AdSense, who’s the winner?
When it comes to Google’s Ad Exchange and AdSense products there is a clear winner: Use both.
The two product work incredibly well in unison. Managed through DFP, the two products can compete in a way that can push earnings higher than either product could manage on its own. As one of the few AdX NPM partners who is also a Google AdSense Certified Partner, OKO are able to offer publishers the benefit of our expertise across the whole range of Google’s monetisation solutions (as well as those from a select few other sources). That expertise ensure that we not only help our publisher earn more, but achieve those earnings in a safe, sustainable way with minimal fuss and work on their part.
If you would like to talk to someone about how OKO can help you earn more from your website then we’d love to hear from you. Click here to get in touch today.
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.