Case Study: How I almost shut down my adult website but bounced back to a 75% profit increase using a single ad system.
Recently, one of our customers wrote us a letter saying that AdSpyglass helped him grow his website profit by 75% and saved him from lots of problems.
Also, he shared that our traffic monitoring feature really helped him out to make his business more efficient. Word-by-word, and we’ve figured out that our customer, Alex – is not only an experienced webmaster but also a talented copywriter.
We asked him if he’s able to write a short case study about his AdSpyglass experience, and surprisingly – he agreed.
Enjoy the first Guest appearance in our blog – a great case study from Alex.
Problem Overview: Intro, Stats, Networks, Providers, Failures, Major Depressive Disorder.
Many webmasters I know personally face the problem of incorrect traffic data. Actually, they even can use trackers and analyzers, but it is still a typical problem when the site performance continues to decrease.
This is where the pitfalls of ad networks’ activity hide. Being one of the thousands of website owners, I’ve also met this problem.
Let’s see what I’m talking about.
Intro: Who am I?
So, I’m an owner of quite a large website with about 5M of monthly visits. Previously, I used to monetize the site through ads with some specific and quite popular ad networks.
Also, I’ve constantly been investing a lot of time in statistics and analytics. For analyzing my website performance, I’ve used the most advanced and popular platform – Google Analytics. Sometimes I’ve also used Matomo. The statistics looked really optimistic and showed constant traffic increasing by 5 to 10% from month to month.
But the reality, how I’ve figured out later, was quite different.
And now, knowing what was really happening, I can state that I was facing some of the following problems.
Webmaster’s Issues with Analysis & Statistics
First things first, and this is how I’ve started my deathly challenging journey to better website monetization.
If you’re running a website longer than three years and hosting it on a server by yourself, you’ll definitely know what I mean.
Sometimes your server is down. This also happens partially when your website is not responding to some specific geos or browsers.
And in case you’re relying on ads as the primary tool for monetization, this downtime can result in decreasing your website profit. Sometimes it is not much, but sometimes you can lose hundreds of dollars like a walk in the park.
The worst thing about that fact is that often you even can’t notice these failures.
And here’s why:
Google Analytics is a fantastic platform. Especially if you take into account that you can use it for free. But it has some flaws.
One of them is data sampling. So, basically, Google won’t scan all of your traffic and track every single website visitor. It is too pricey and complex – again, the platform is free, they’re not making money from it, so we can’t judge them for it.
So what do they do? Instead of processing all your website traffic, they take only a slice of it and calculate all your stats using math and extrapolation. Here’s how the guys from Google explain it:
“In data analysis, sampling is the practice of analyzing a subset of all data to uncover the meaningful information in the larger data set. For example, if you wanted to estimate the number of trees in a 100-acre area where the distribution of trees was fairly uniform, you could count the number of trees in 1 acre and multiply by 100, or count the trees in a half-acre and multiply by 200 to get an accurate representation of the entire 100 acres.”
That explains a lot, isn’t it? Moreover, this is where I’ve realized the first problem. If your website’s server is not responding in the UK and works correctly in other countries, you may not notice that due to Data Sampling.
The second part of the problem is even easier. As you know, Google can’t provide you with up-to-date info about your traffic. So, the graphs and tables you see there can show you website stats only up to two days before the current date. If today’s the 3rd of July – the last date you’ll see in GA would be the 1st of July.
Imagine that you’re relaxing on Saturday and Sunday, thinking that your website is still working and generates some monies for you. Then, coming back to work on Monday, you see that your website was down for two days and there are no monies at all. That explains another problem – you can’t fix something quickly since you can’t see the real-time data. That sucks, isn’t it?
So, here goes the first problem: You may lose a lot of money due to server failures, provider’s-side issues, network errors, and dozens of other stuff – without ANY clue about what’s happening.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Ad Networks
“We will pay you enough. But we’ll use our concept of “enough” to ensure that we’ll take advantage of you and get richer in the first place.” – Ad Networks.
Here’s what, in my opinion, most Ad Networks think about cooperation with publishers. Of course, I’ve expressed my subjective thought, and you may feel in another way, but here’s one thing I’d like to tell you about.
As I said, I’ve used third-party tools to track my website performance. And as I said, I’ve watched 5-10% of month-to-month traffic growth.
On the other side – ad networks’ – I’ve also seen a slight month-to-month revenue decrease.
So, I’ve started to question myself:
How is it possible to get less at the same time when my website traffic is growing sustainably?
And, fortunately, I’ve found my answers.
Believe it or not: Ad Network stats
Do you work with Ad Network and rely on its data about your traffic, impressions, and ad revenue?
Then, I have awful news – you may be getting non-truthful information about your website advertising performance. Therefore, if you don’t know how much money you actually make – there is no need to pay you a fair amount. And that is what Ad Networks usually do – they pay you less.
Over time I started to notice that the number of my ad impressions decreases from month to month. It was weird for me to accept that my site’s performance goes well and the hits fall.
That is a type of paradox many ad networks can surprise you with.
How did I recognize it?
I’ve started to use a third-party tracker and calculated the number of my ad impressions using these tools.
It became clear to me that the results from these tracking services were not the ones my ad network gave me. Later on, I’ve discovered that this is one of the common issues of many webmasters, and it is often called “shaving.”
So, I’ve realized that my Ad Network was shaving my traffic.
In other words, they used to hide a part of the traffic that came from the same IP addresses. That means that when you have many unique visitors under the same IP, all of them will be counted as a single user. As you may guess, the hidden traffic remains for the ad network the same as the revenue it brings.
Multi-Format Ad Serving
From time to time, I was receiving tickets from users about some intrusive Ad Formats. Also, some users reported that they see a lot of sneaky ads about malware on their devices. These are what are often called Tech Support ads.
The interesting fact about this case is that I’m never putting too many ads on my websites and usually try to avoid any aggressive advertisements. Moreover, my users’ intrusive ads were described as some format that I’d never use on my platforms to avoid UX affection.
So, I’ve started to dig into it, ask familiar webmasters about this, and I’ve got my answers.
Frequently, this type of contradiction means that the ad network takes your traffic and, subsequently, your income using Multi-Format Ads.
Multi-format ad serving is one of the tricks the advertising network uses to earn more from your traffic.
While you agree to place the ads on your site in one format, these networks allow themselves to display other ad types without even bothering themselves with asking your permission or, at least, paying you better rates.
Major Depressive Disorder
After all these cheatings being found out, I’ve started to feel helpless and almost lost interest in running my site.
When you put so much effort into webmastering and then the service which is supposed to help you just deceives you – it all affects your mental health. I felt anger because of that injustice. Then that anger rolled down to apathy and depression. My revenue continued to decrease, and I even started to think about quitting and looking for a full-time job.
I have almost forsaken my website and lost 11 pounds during these weeks, which was alarming to go to the doctor.
And I went, and the doctor said that all those symptoms indicate a major depressive episode, a type of mental disorder. The thing is that even such a simple depression can cause more severe consequences. In my case, I’ve almost shut down my business but was lucky enough to keep it alive. Speaking of such a personal issue, I want to show an example of how important it is to choose the right partner and determine who you are doing business with.
TL;DR: Summary of All the Problems
So, to identify the problem and save you from misunderstanding, I want to highlight the main things I’ve been struggling with:
|False Statistics||While analytical data is essential for moving forward, ad networks do not always care about it. They can serve webmasters with the wrong data that will surely affect the site performance and the revenue as well.|
|Multiformat Ad Serving||I doubt if any webmaster wants to show people tons of aggressive ads, however that doesn’t stop ad networks from using your website for their purposes.|
|Sampling Data Practice||Even such a trusted service like Google Analytics doesn’t provide full data about your site, not to mention other companies. They often use sampling methods meaning it is impossible to take every small detail into account.|
|Revenue Decrease||Indeed, after all the factors above it is obvious that your revenue will be negatively affected. I could not understand for a long time why my website’s performance is so good and the revenue is decreasing bit by bit.|
|Health Problems||It is hard to stay safe and sound while seeing how your website’s performance decreases for no reason. I am even lucky to have discovered the problem in time!|
In a state of total frustration, I could not imagine any way of resolving my problems. If you are naive enough (like I was), you probably think that the best solution for me could be moving to another ad network. But being an active forums user, I’ve figured out that publishers of almost all major networks often experienced the same scenario. Moreover, If you’ve read the previous paragraphs attentively, you have noticed that I also had some issues with proper analytics, real-time statistics, and fair tracking.
So, I’ve started to think about alternatives to ad networks: I was researching CPA networks, Advertising Agencies, and other ways to sell my traffic directly. There were a lot of things to think about.
Being lucky to have friends who were also webmasters, I shared these problems with one of them. And what was weird, he wondered why I still look for a single ad network. I was confused with these questions since I’ve never heard that it is possible to work with lots of them. My friend suggested me to google about ad mediation services and try one of them. I was decided to give it a shot.
Managing All Ad Networks Within One Ad Mediation Service
Read more: What Is Ad Mediation And How Does It Work
So, I’ve started to look for a such service. It turned out that there are not so many decent mediation systems, and AdSpyglass was looking like a recognized leader.
Ad mediation services allow webmasters to work simultaneously with numerous ad networks and monitor the stats from all networks in a single interface. Such services also analyze the CPM rate for each ad impression and help webmasters sell traffic at the highest price.
This intelligent algorithm significantly simplifies the workflow for webmasters as they don’t need to constantly search for new ad networks offering better payouts and can be sure that their traffic is monetized to the fullest extent.
Instead, these services put all ad networks into a position of competing with each other for every single ad impression you have. And that sounds much better than usual cooperation with a single network.
Also, the profit calculator represented on the AdSpyglass website encouraged me to try their system even more. So I did.
Here’s how it looks from a technical standpoint:
Instead of wandering between numerous ad networks and comparing the performance, I’ve enabled all of those ad networks altogether.
At first, I’ve connected 7 Ad Networks where I’ve already had my accounts.
Then I’ve expanded that number with 10+ newly registered accounts.
Now I’m selling my traffic to about 20 Ad Networks, automatically receiving the highest CPM for every hit.
Monitoring Traffic Changes in Real-Time
Previously I’ve used Google Analytics, Matomo, and a third-party tracker, trying to see a bigger picture about my stats. That method was not only inconvenient but inaccurate as well.
It occurred that AdSpyglass has its own inbuilt stats monitoring & reporting tool. After playing with settings, I’ve managed to configure its monitoring system just according to my needs.
Today, I see all the changes in web traffic in real-time and immediately receiving notifications when any issues are detected.
That AdSpyglass Traffic Analyzer feature turned out to be just what I needed.
Here’s how it works for me:
I’ve adjusted my reporting filters to create a custom-tailored view with metrics that make the most sense. Also, I’ve set up Traffic Analyzer notifications to get an email every time there is a significant change. Now I get an instant email alert with a link to the report where all traffic jumps and its reasons are clearly visible.
Knowing what is really happening to your traffic, its actual volume, and at what price ad networks are buying your traffic helps you better understand which actions you should take to continue growing your website. That is why I encourage all webmasters to incorporate advanced monitoring tools.
The variety of benefits provided by ad mediation services has exceeded all my expectations. I can’t say for sure about other platforms, but from my personal experience after joining AdSpyglass, I’ve observed these positive changes:
Since my traffic stats are showing sustainable growth, now I can see how it results in the sustainable growth of the income as well.
It is also needed to highlight that after implementing ad mediation, my profit grew by an astonishing 75% compared to the classic single-ad-network type of traffic selling.
Ability to Better Analyze Website’s Changes
Statistics provided by AdSpyglass are comprehensive in the sense that it covers all essential aspects: ad format, date, country, creative, and ability to compare between different periods. It helped me uncover real reasons for traffic increase or decrease for any specific domain, ad network, ad type, or creative. Now I can see that something is not alright with my server and take appropriate measures without any hesitation.
Returning to my health issues, my doctor noticed that I’ve started to do much better. Indeed, why should I worry about my website when I can see an up-to-date performance at any time? Now the working process pleases me. I can make more and more money with such a good-working service. Also, the feeling of injustice is not pursuing me anymore – ad mediation is a technology that makes the advertising industry much more fair and transparent. I’m no more not abused by Ad Networks – I make them compete for my traffic and pay me the highest cost.
I’m glad that I considered trying an ad mediation platform.
In this case study, I’m not propagating to use only the AdSpyglass system – you are free to choose any other platform. I recommend AdSpyglass since their stack of features turned out to be very useful and comprehensive for me. I’ve managed to resolve all of my issues using the platform. In your case, some other service may work better.
The main point of my article is to encourage you to change the way how you’re selling your traffic.
I’ve been surfing the AdSpyglass website, and I’ve noticed one interesting quotation from the CEO of the service.
Here’s what he said:
“I believe that the ad industry is unfairly built in favor of advertisers and ad networks. My mission is to bring the power back to publishers.”
And I can’t say anything better than that. Now the paradigm is turned upside down, and I’m choosing ad networks I want to add to rotation instead of letting them use me. And that is why I highly recommend stopping using a single Ad Network and evolve your traffic selling method using ad mediation.
Many thanks to the developers and managers of the AdSpyglass platform. You truly saved me, and now I can recommend mediation to anyone!