Ad Optimization Services – Do they really work?

Recently I had received some comments about Pubmatic Ad Optimization Service in one of my review posts. Following this, I thought of giving this product a try and also do some competitor analysis on this particular segment. After some trials with different products, I thought of summarizing my views not in terms of a full-fledged review but what exactly publishers are expecting out of these optimization services.

What is Ad Optimization?

As bloggers, many of you must have signed up with a number of ad networks for publisher accounts. At the end, however, you want to stick on to the most performing ads and networks based on your earnings pattern as you see them on a periodical basis. In this case, arriving at a decision on which ad networks to be used is the outcome of your manual experiments. The so called Ad Optimization services and applications attempt to do this dirty job for you by serving the ads that are best performing based on your content parameters and geo-targeting needs.

Most of these products work the following way – You need to create an account with one of these services and select the ad networks that you currently use by providing the authentication credentials to the application. You then define your ad zones (yet again!) for which sometimes you have to provide further details such as keywords, categories etc that you must have already provided with the respective ad networks. Once you pick an ad-zone and a number of networks that has to serve this zone you can get a piece of code that you paste in your ad space. From this point onwards the optimization service will take control and will decide which ads to serve from what network and for which geo-locations. Sounds impressive, right?

What does the publisher actually want and what you get?

Intelligence upfront: As a publisher, I want to be informed about the best performing ads and networks for certain geographic-demographic categories when I sign up with such a service, though free of cost. However, most of these services and their optimization engines actually start providing benefit from their learning process only after 75,000 or 100,000 page impressions (or after a few months for most average bloggers – probably high traffic websites start benefiting much earlier). Until then your eCPM will go down dramatically as experiments are rotation are on. This is the number one issue with these services. Wish they had provided already captured intelligence from similar publishers and networks to suggest certain ad networks to opt once you sign up! At present this is not the case.

Speed of ad serving: Since your ads now have to be routed via one more server, the performance of ad rendering may dip. This is the compromise you have to make if everything has to be optimized via one agent.

Aesthetics, appearance and usage of existing zones: The optimization service also tries to optimize your ad appearance, colors and fonts etc. You must have already designed and customized your ad but these services try to decorate it further in the name of optimization. But you should be lucky if you get the kind of looks you want. Moreover, most of them do not allow the usage of existing ad-blocks but need to create them fresh!

Main players

The following are some of the players providing free ad optimization services. You could try them to see if they make any improvement to your overall earnings.

Rubicon Project
Strategic Data Corporation – Recently acquired by Fox and nothing heard thereafter

(There are other companies like DigitalGrit (now Zeta Interactive), MediaPlex, IndiaBranding and many more who provide ad optimization services on a consulting basis)

Tail Piece

Most of the ad optimization services are run by well known ad houses. So their preferred network list will also include own ad service as well. Another thing, even before some intelligence or insight is provided to you, they get the information they need as to what category of publishers are using which networks and for which ad zones etc. This will certainly help them ‘improve’ as ad agencies and probably dig into ad rates, trend, website income statistics etc, to put forward the point diplomatically!


  1. sneha :

    i am really happy to see your website because those information i was searching for, i got here
    i am very thankful to u

  2. moserw :

    Don’t know about the others, but I did use PubMatic for a long period of time, but never found any improvement as such.

  3. @Rajiv, you are right… These are good enough only to consolidate all ad accounts into one. As I mentioned in the post at least they are able to use the data to provide some reports on eCPM rates if not for help optimizing our earnings. Moreover, they can improve their own networks as well learning from others :)

  4. Nihar :

    Ajith, Are you using any service? if yes, which one are you using?

    Nihar’s last blog post… Browser stops working after starting uTorrent client

  5. @Nihar, nope… I tried to use Pubmatic once after Amar Goel’s (co-founder of Pubmatic, Komli etc) but soon stopped it seeing some stupid background colors etc. Not sure how good is their service now.


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