There’s something missing in the array of tools offered to publishers for content performance analytics. While content marketers are offered a variety of techniques and solutions for ROI measurement? Publishers are left to shoot in the dark. All of this is about to change.

Let us start by doing something we don’t normally do and that’s tl;dr this post. The one metric is content ROI. If you’re an ad monetized content creator you know how difficult it is to measure the overall monetization success of every piece of content you create.

For some of you, this is very apparent so you don’t have to keep reading this post (there are several other great posts in this blog for you to explore).

But, if you’d like to hear a bit more about how effectively measuring content ROI will change the ad tech industry, read on.

The Art

Publishers are producing a lot of content. Most of it is well thought out, planned and executed with care. These publishers take the time to get to know their audiences, their drives and needs, then deliver the most engaging and clickable content.

For established and experienced publishers, none of this is guesswork. A lot of thought and analysis help formulate a content strategy that drives revenue.

The key to success is driving the right traffic to the right content, and monetizing this traffic in the most effective way. Sounds easy enough (NOT!). The problem starts when success is hard to measure. Even with science.

content monetization analysis

The Science

And then there’s the cold, hard math. Publishers spend money on content production and traffic acquisition. Publishers make money with display ads, affiliate commissions and sometimes direct sales (if they have something to sell).

There are alternative monetization techniques, like Patreon and paid subscriptions, but for the most part – that’s the equation. It’s a numbers game, however you spin it. But it’s not as simple as revenue minus cost equals profit. Most publishers (at least the successful ones) know this well.

the science of content monetization

As with any numbers game, the way to win over time is to tweak the variables for the highest bottom line possible. But to do this, you need to be able to measure performance across ad networks, pages, site categories and traffic sources. With this data in hand, you can make beautiful art.


Bought traffic has one major advantage over organic traffic – it gives you control over what content is served to these masses. Organic, social, or refereed traffic may not always send traffic to the best monetized pages but if we know which piece of content monetizes the best then we can comfortably buy traffic to that page.

Theoretically, this should give you more room to experiment and maneuver to maximize profit margins. In reality, it doesn’t.

wasted ad spend

Let’s say we have our favorite blog post that monetizes like a boss. Obviously, we want more of that sweetness. So now we’re driving bought traffic from all over to this golden piece of content.

We’re buying from Facebook, Outbrain, Google, RevContent, through exchanges, programmatically, through agencies and whatnot. We’re seeing nice RPMs for this page across our different monetization channels.

But what traffic is bringing in the best engagement? What is the CROI for each page, traffic source and monetization scheme? To figure this out, you need to develop a pathological addiction to advanced Excel or SQL functions.

learn to love excel

The Missing Solution

If you’re a mommy blogger using just AdSense to monetize your content – you’re fine. Although not very easy to find, Google Analytics (when connected to your AdSense account) lets you see which sources and mediums were the most profitable for each page.

But if you’re a publisher with a long waterfall with direct deals, display ads, affiliate links and more – you’re either frustrated, addicted to spreadsheets or both.

What publishers need (but currently do not have) is a unified all-in-one yield optimization solution. A solution that will let us measure performance and make sense of all those little variables in the numbers game of content monetization.

Ideally, this solution would also let publishers enter production costs into the tool, in addition to all monetization channels and traffic sources. This would simplify CROI optimization for publishers by a bunch.

data dashboard for online publishers monetization channels ad networks

A New Hope?

Fortunately, I am not the only one with this idea. Not surprising, really. Marketers have so many tools out there to help them measure CROI. Those measuring sales and conversions have an even easier time understanding and optimizing their revenue streams. Publishers will soon have this ability, but not quite yet.

Google Analytics 360

Google’s premium analytics solution is aimed mostly at marketers (surprise surprise), but for publishers it offers integration with Google and publisher tools like AdSense, DoubleClick AdExchange, and AdMob. There is still no support for other monetization networks or schemes.

Taboola & Outbrain

The two networks announced (within days of each other) the integration of advanced analytics features for publishers in their networks.

Outbrain’s Automatic Yield Feature promises that “The technology we’ve built allows us to take all revenue sources flowing through the ad server (plus Outbrain revenue) and create a real-time revenue snapshot of every page.

Taboola’s Backstage dashboard pulls in revenue data from three sources: Taboola’s own sponsored content recommendation ad slots, native ad placements powered by Taboola, and through its Taboola-X product that gives the company access to Google AdSense and AdX revenue data on certain publisher websites.

taboola dashboard

Still not there

These are a start, but not nearly enough. Personally, I feel that ad tech has been focusing too much on the advertiser side, and for too long. Today, the climate is changing. And we at AdNgin are planning to helping you make it rain. Stay tuned for more.

Read more: