Advertising Reader Revenue
4 mins read

Q&A: Talking monetisation with publisher

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Website monetisation is a complex process for today’s publishers as they navigate the ever-changing ad tech landscape and try to stay on top of continual developments to maximise yields while, crucially, delivering a positive audience experience.

A veteran of online publishing, Chris Parker founder of has first-hand experience of the inner workings of website monetisation. Offering services such as IP lookup, VPNs, blacklist checks and bandwidth speed tests, as well as a discussion forum, is an authoritative voice on topics such as IP addresses, networking and online safety. Based out of Tustin, California, the site now sees about 6 million visitors a month globally.

What’s New in Publishing caught up with Chris to talk programmatic strategy, header bidding, and’s established partnership with programmatic and publisher solutions specialist, Sovrn:

  • Can you tell us a little about your site and your audience?

I launched in January 2000 as a hobby but over the years it grew, and for the past few years it has been my full-time occupation. The site is now the world’s most popular IP address lookup site with more than six million monthly visits.

The audience is 80:20 male to female, and is spread fairly evenly across age groups, although 37% of users are within the 25-34 range. Almost 30% of the audience is from the US but there are visitors from all over the world including 6% from the UK, 5% from India, 4% from Canada and 3% from France. Around 70% of visitors use the English version of the site but it is translated into various other languages with 4% using the French version and 2% using the Turkish version. Only a fifth of visitors access the site via mobile with most accessing via desktop.

  • What is your current programmatic setup? What strategies are you currently using to grow your programmatic revenue?

Currently, the overall setup uses Doubleclick for Publishers (DFP). I use header bidding through Sovrn’s pre-bid wrapper with the following adapters: Index Exchange, AppNexus, Sovrn, DistrctM, Conversant, Komona, RhythmOne, and Criteo. I’ve also tested AOL, bRealTime, PulsePoint, Roxot, Sekindo, Sonobi, Underdog Media, and Vertoz. Header bidding runs in competition with AdSense and a handful of display CPM ad networks. At this point, I’m looking to optimise the current setup by eliminating partners with low earnings or high latency.

  • What criteria are you using when choosing your programmatic partners?

I’m looking for partners that can bring significant new demand.  The last couple of partners I’ve tested have had fill rates below 1%. This could be caused by timeouts, them taking too big a piece of the pie, or just not having access to new advertisers. I’ve become more and more picky as I go forward and I’m doing more research into what additional partners can bring that others can’t.

  • What Sovrn technologies are you currently using? Any additional technologies you are considering?

I’m currently using the header bidding wrapper, and also the Viewable Engagement Time (VET) tool that reloads ad positions after an ad has been in view and actively engaged with for 25 seconds. In the future I’d be interested in implementing server-to-server to improve performance.

  • What value did Sovrn’s wrapper provide over other partners that led you to choosing it over other options?

At the time I was looking for a header bidding wrapper, there did not appear to be many solutions available that were easy to implement. Sovrn provided something I could implement without a lot of technical work and has continued to deliver effective support.

  • Can you tell us about the results you have seen working with Sovrn?

The implementation of header bidding has significantly increased overall display revenue and CPM. For example, over the past two years, I have been able to grow my display advertising eCPM rate by an impressive 93%.

  • What was the biggest hurdle you experienced with header bidding in 2017 and what excites you most about it in 2018?

The most difficult aspect with header bidding has been evaluating and testing adapter partners.  All but a few of them have brought minimal added value.

One thing I’m looking for this year is performance improvements either via server-to-server or some other tech such as pre-bid. I’m also watching to see if there will be a migration away from second-price auctioning, if the really big players such as Facebook and Amazon will adjust their entry requirements, and if there will be consolidation in the ad network space.

  • What opportunities do you think moving away from second-price auction will provide to publishers, both in the short and long-term? What effect do you think it will have on the industry as a whole?

As I don’t see the agency or advertiser components I’m not entirely sure. As a publisher, I suspect there may be high CPM rates in the short run, but they would likely bounce back in the long term. From the advertiser perspective, it may have a negative impact in the short run. It’s a complex industry with many moving parts, so adjusting one will cause the whole system to come out of balance for a period of time before everyone adjusts to the new norm.

Thank you for your insights.

Disclosure: What’s New in Publishing is wholly owned by Sovrn Holdings, Inc.