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The Goals

  • Reduce the ad code needed on user devices to speed page load
  • Make ad experiences faster

The Approach

  • Switched to server side solutions to improve user experience
  • Implemented Exchange Bidding

The Results

  • Increased programmatic revenue without impacting user experience

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Published June 2017

Hearst Magazines Digital Media oversees a portfolio of digital brands that reaches over 180 million global visitors a month and 134 million social media followers. To keep this loyal audience engaged and to maximize revenue, Hearst Magazines Digital Media invests heavily in their advertising technology. This allows them to ensure their ads enhance the user experience, while delivering the best performing media for advertisers. 

To help them achieve this, Hearst Magazines Digital Media were fast adopters of Exchange Bidding, which empowers them to maximize demand for their inventory with the least complexity, while maintaining the best user experience.

Evolving yield management

Hearst Magazines Digital Media is no stranger to managing multiple programmatic partners. In 2013 they started testing multiple header bidding exchanges and quickly discovered issues with these new integrations. Some partners tried to drop as many as 20 ad tags on every impression, slowing the load time of their sites; some tried to manipulate their priority in the ad server, reducing Hearst’s overall yield; and others had slow-running technology that didn’t deliver results. 

“We tested around 15 different header bidding solutions over the years,” says Scott Both, Director of Programmatic Sales Engineering, Hearst Magazines Digital Media. “Not all provided value. Not all were responsible with how they operated. And because of these issues, adding more partners didn’t always equal more revenue.”

Hearst’s engineers have developed their own custom site code to impose strict rules on header bidding partners, but they know they can do more. As they continue evolving their strategy to deliver better user experiences across mobile, video and Accelerated Mobile Pages, they’re turning to server side solutions like Exchange Bidding to reach their goals.

Transitioning to server side with Exchange Bidding

When Hearst Magazines Digital Media wanted to move their yield management code off their site, Exchange Bidding checked all the boxes. Exchange Bidding allows Hearst Magazines Digital Media to put multiple ad exchanges and supply side platforms into competition for every impression in a unified real-time auction. Instead of changing or adding code to their site, Hearst Magazines Digital Media only changed a few account settings to setup Exchange Bidding. Then from within the DoubleClick UI, they can control which exchanges have access to their inventory and see reporting on how each partner is performing. Plus, with unified billing, they no longer need to negotiate how much they’re getting paid.

Our goal is to move as much of our advertising code off our sites as possible. Less code loading on the client side is better. Exchange Bidding is great because it helps us move in that direction. It’s simple to setup and works with our existing DoubleClick tags.

Scott Both, Director of Programmatic Sales Engineering, Hearst Magazines Digital Media

Delivering better yield faster with server side solutions

As Hearst Magazines Digital Media looks to the horizon they know they need to optimize for speed. With an increased focus on creating Accelerated Mobile Pages, mobile-first and video content they know their current setup needs to evolve. To achieve this, they’re pushing their existing partners to move to server side solutions.

Scott expects a shift in the near future. “Fast forward to the end of the year, and I see us shifting to two or three client side partners who are also server side mediators, with much less code on our site. We’re happy with Exchange Bidding and excited about it’s future potential to manage yield.”

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Further reading:

Dotdash creates better user experiences and ad experiences

    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.

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