In short, no.
Lots of companies out there offer “free” services just to add an ad or two to your site. These are fundamentally a bad idea, and always cost more ad revenue than you’d make from simply paying for the service. The small fee to run a commenting, quiz or engagement system on your site is far less than the 5-8% of ad earnings that you would lose from running low-quality, poorly viewable ad units. So we highly recommend not running ads via your commenting platform.
This is why Raptive’s exclusivity requirement encompasses commenting, quizzes and other engagement platforms, and video and non-video native content recommendations. They feature low-quality, poorly viewable ads that will hurt your Raptive ad earnings. There are three core issues with these services.
Ad companies almost all use the same infrastructure. We use Google’s Ad Manager to serve the ads, and the open-source Prebid library and Amazon’s APS to manage auctions. Running multiple instances of these infrastructures always results in hurt ad earnings.
In addition ads are notoriously tricky little buggers. Adjusting one tiny thing on one side of ad code can impact the ad earnings on a seemingly unrelated side of the ad setup. Raptive has a team of nearly 50 engineers, QA testers and data analysts who meticulously review and test every small code change to ensure that there are no conflicts between the various elements of your Raptive ads. But third parties are not testing to see if your Raptive ad earnings drop 1 or 3% from a change that they roll out.
So we often see that even if it’s just a 2% revenue hit right away, this increases over time as widget companies build features that conflict with Raptive ads.
It's easy to see when a new ad partner is making you $300/day, but it's much harder to see that that $300/day is costing you $400/day on the Raptive side. Our systems measure all of this and that's why we've selected the partners we have - they are all truly incremental, they actually add money to your check every month.
Most frequently these third-party widgets feature substantial conflicts with Raptive ads right out of the box. It is a 20-30% revenue hit as they’ll have calls in the infrastructure that prematurely cause Raptive ads to end auctions, devastating ad earnings.
Less frequently, these partners cause 40-50% revenue loss as they don’t adhere to Google’s terms of service, and trigger Google violations that reduce ad spend on your Raptive ads.
Most ad buying systems are not very sophisticated. Many advertisers view the likelihood that an ad that they buy of your site gets on screen, its viewability, as the average of all of the ad impressions available. Raptive works hard to ensure that your viewability is maximized for ad layout and unique reader behavior.
Even reputable widget providers frequently have a maximum of 45% viewability, and often we see them as low as 10% viewability. These widget companies load as many ads as possible in their space, often 10+, and don’t worry about the impact of loading poorly viewable ads on your site.
Advertisers then see those ads alongside your Raptive ads, and their systems will pay less for your Raptive ads as they see the average viewability of all of your ad slots decrease. This is a slow process as advertisers often work with 28-day average viewability. So you can roll out a new widget or poorly viewable ad slot and might not see a noticeable revenue drop, but slowly your site will get downgraded in advertiser systems. Then in 28 days, your revenue is now 5 - 8% lower than it should be because those advertisers have cut their spending.
Supply Path Optimization
Raptive runs a tightly controlled and highly “direct” pathway to your ads. We work to provide the “shortest path” to your advertisements as possible, to eliminate middlemen, and require advertisers to pay a premium for each impression. This is very beneficial because advertisers are able to bid on a higher percentage of your impressions, knowing that they’re not seeing the same impression coming through their pipes from other connections
Many of these widget operators do the opposite. They plugin in partners as many times as possible. So instead of an advertiser seeing one or two paths to your page for a particular ad impression, they might see 15 paths for one impression. This is a short-term method for increasing ad revenue, but long term, advertisers begin to tune out the impressions from these paths. There are simply too many requests and they don’t want to pay to listen to them all. This impacts your Raptive ads when advertisers start to tune out the Raptive requests from your site because they’re overwhelmed with all of the low-valuable ad requests from these widget operators.
In addition, some advertisers are focused on just getting onto the page for a particular reader. They’ll take whichever path is available. By adding dozens of additional paths, even if they’re low value, those advertisers will avoid the more expensive Raptive pathways, where they are forced to pay a premium, and will take the cheapest path to your page. So adding a bunch of cheap pathways reduces the need for those advertisers to pay a premium and hurts your overall ad earnings.
One additional impact that a growing number of advertisers are measuring is the environmental impact of their advertising. Because these widget providers conduct so many reselling auctions to try to coax advertisers to spend, their carbon footprint per impression is significant. Advertisers are beginning to measure the carbon footprint of their ad buys, and cutting out pathways and publishers that have excessive carbon footprints.
Finally, ARaptive’s ads adhere to strict quality standards and operate within our special technology to prevent malicious redirects and non-family-friendly ads, but ads from other sources can open your site up to vulnerabilities and undermine your site’s reputation with advertisers. Even though your Raptive ads comply with all of Google’s best practices, other ads on your site may be sabotaging those efforts.
Why Raptive Requires Exclusivity
Because of these issues, code conflicts, poor viewability and multiplied ad pathways to the page, you will always be better off with a paid solution than an ad-supported solution for any feature you’re adding to your site. Whether it’s commenting, or a video player or a related posts widget, ads on your site should be optimized together instead of conflicting, which is why we require exclusivity with your ad placements.