Published June 2017
Dotdash (.dash), formerly known as About.com, has transformed from a general interest website to a vibrant collection of six stand-alone vertical brands including Verywell (health), The Spruce (home), The Balance (personal finance), Lifewire (tech), ThoughtCo (education) and TripSavvy (travel).
As one of the fastest-growing large publishers with over 100MM monthly unique visitors, Dotdash focuses on ensuring the best user experience across all their sites. That’s why, alongside rebranding their content, Dotdash restructured their advertising tech setup to ensure their ad experiences performed as effectively as their sites. They’re preparing for a future where speed is critical and are seeing success using Exchange Bidding.
With its rebrand to Dotdash and converting to six verticalized branded sites, their focus is on better experiences.
“Users interact differently with our content depending on the site topic,” says Scott Mulqueen, VP of Programmatic at Dotdash. “They have different expectations and engage with the content in different ways. Because of this, we needed to update our ad experiences to match the performance of our new sites.”
So, in addition to unique ad formats created for their new brands, Dotdash redesigned their programmatic ad technology stack to improve the overall advertising experience.
Faster is better
Prior to the rebrand, Scott and his team were already streamlining their advertising technologies. A few years ago, the company had a typical setup: multiple partners put together in a complicated sequence of passbacks. The setup created page latency, ad latency and a suboptimal user experience. They spent a lot of time evaluating and testing partners to find those that provided the best yield and speed performance.
“We’ve gone through a lot of testing, especially with header bidding partners, and we’re looking to reduce the number of partners we work with to only those that meet our performance requirements. Through testing, we’ve found that faster is better and also turns into higher yield,” said Scott.
With better user experience driving the strategy, Dotdash prioritized solutions that delivered the best revenue possible with the least impact on their users. This meant reducing ad tech code to increase their site speed.
“The future of our ad technology stack is speed. We started to think about using server side technologies to manage our exchange partners, so when Exchange Bidding became available, we were immediately interested,” says Scott.
We want to get to a place where we can manage all our inventory directly inside our ad server, instead of on multiple platforms. We think Exchange Bidding is a great complement to Dynamic Allocation, and to our header bidding strategy.
Exchange Bidding allows Dotdash to achieve this, and helps them put all their trusted exchange partners into real-time competition directly inside their ad server, DoubleClick for Publishers.
“Exchange Bidding has been great for our strategy. It was easy to set up, we created a few yield groups to give inventory access to each of our exchanges and Exchange Bidding managed all the backend connections to our exchange partners — with no coding or additional line items to add and continuously update,” Says Scott. “It’s nice that Exchange Bidding is built into the ad server. As we continue cleaning up our ad stack, solutions like this will also help us clean up clutter in our adserver as well.”
Simplifying for the future
As Dotdash continues to build momentum with users, their team continually looks for new ways to make more from every impression. “We want to get to a point where we only have Exchange Bidding and two or three other partners directly on our page to manage all our programmatic inventory,” notes Scott. “The more advertising code we can take off our sites, the faster we can deliver great user and ad experiences across our brands.”