I’ve seen a lot of Ezoic reviews written by people who recently moved a website on it. While these are lovely, how about a review written by someone who’s moved eight large websites onto their platform and has done six figures a year of business with them for the past two years? Here’s our story….
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In the Beginning… (AdSense)
Like many small publishers, we joined Google’s AdSense program as our first step towards generating some ad revenue to support our website.
The good news was this was relatively easy. AdSense is designed to be the entry point into Google’s massive Ad Exchange platform. It comes with training wheels: you can set it up by cutting and pasting a snippet of code into a web page and it pretty much does everything from there.
And in its defense, AdSense pays well for an auto-managed advertising program. The platform is entirely self-service, approvals are relatively fast, and they can even manage ad placements for you (AdSense auto ads).
That being said, we had crossed six figured of revenue before we ever heard a peep from a human in their organization. And started getting attention from other advertising networks.
Introducing Premium Advertising Networks
If you liked AdSense, you’ll love premium advertising networks. From a revenue perspective, we’re talking about the difference between your first bicycle and that $5000 triathlon road bike you’ve been dreaming about.
Consider it a way to take the training wheels off your bike.
It turns out there are multiple levels of advertisers out there. Google does a good job of simplifying the task of placing ads across many small websites with a minimum of effort. An AdSense Account is effectively self managed. You want to run a banner ad for every IPhone which reads about science fiction games? Here’s your campaign. But some advertisers demand – and will pay – substantially more to do it their way.
Premium advertising networks cater to these high paying buyers, recruiting relevant websites and packaging the ad space up for brand clients. They’re looking for larger, higher quality websites worth individualized marketing.
In addition to finding better buyers, most premium networks invest more effort in optimizing the placement of those ads on your website. Google’s pretty basis – they’re running a volume business. They’re generally not interested in testing an optimization process which can’t be completely automated, so a machine can manage all of the site-level details.
It turns out we can do a little bit better than that. Which brings us to Ezoic.
Ezoic vs. AdSense
The Ezoic story starts about a decade ago. A group of forward-thinking investors started buying small websites (imagine that…) and managing them for cash flow. Along the way, they noticed that most of these sites hadn’t really done a good job of optimizing their AdSense ads.
Bear in mind that 2010 AdSense optimization was very manual. You hired an expensive consultant to shuffle ads around and analyze their earnings. Very profitable – but not scalable for website owners. And monetization consultants were very expensive.
The pre-Ezoic founders automated this entire process, building a platform (ad tester). The ad tester platform tests combinations of ad placements to see which group of ads earns the most money. So their – very effective – strategy for increasing the earnings from their websites was simply to move these websites onto the platform. Boom – instant increase in earnings.
Especially since moving onto this platform makes it easy to connect the websites with premium advertisers. The Ezoic ad network integrates many premium advertisers by default. Another immediate bump in earnings.
Did I mention websites are priced as a multiple of monthly earnings? Bumping $500 a month website to $750 per month generates an immediate $7,500 profit (if you sell), since the website you bought for $15,000 would now be worth $22,500…
It turns out there are other advantages to their platform. Ezoic is able to use data to optimize the user experience along with the advertising revenue. They’re able to show the highest paying ads the users will tolerate and can dial back the rest to reduce your bounce rate. In fact, they can personalize this for specific subsets of your traffic which delivers an additional boost in the revenue per site.
The typical Ezoic client reports a 50% lift over their AdSense earnings. Generally accomplished with a boost in traffic (reported at 48%) due to improved user experience which affects your search engine rankings.
And you’re still showing Google Ads. Ezoic is an Google Certified Publishing Partner, which gives them an inside relationship with Google’s advertising group. This can be helpful if you’re dealing with Google’s policies. I look at certified publishing partner status as an insurance policy of sorts, an extra layer of appeal in the event things go seriously wrong.
Ezoic Review – Initial Results
Does Ezoic work?
Our numbers speak for themselves. Our total earnings from the website portfolio grew by 87% between the first quarter (pre-Ezoic) and the balance of the year. We moved all of our top sites on their platform along with a few smaller sites that are growing quickly.
In retrospect our timing was perfect. We had enjoyed a nice boost in revenue as our traffic grew dramatically over the past two years but this was starting to slow down. Unless we could squeeze more revenue out of our traffic, our growth would slow.
Ezoic’s program offered us a few common sense improvement opportunities:
- Access to more competitive pool of ad exchange bidders (higher rates)
- Optimize ad placement on the page to increase revenue potential
- Optimize ad density for different visitors
For most sites, you get three key additional benefits:
- Faster site speed due to migrating onto the Ezoic CDN
- Better user experience via optimizing ad placements
- Ezoic’s Analytics product which gives you deeper insights on your traffic
One of the things I liked about Ezoic’s approach was their insistence on using a metric called EPMV – Earnings Per 1000 Visitors. This is a higher level version of the AdSense RPM metric that measures the total value of a visitor across a full session. They use this to optimize the number of ads, balancing user experience with page-level revenue to maximize your total earnings. Their platform customizes this to individual user groups, leveraging differences in interest and engagement between different types of traffic.
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Ezoic Review – Act II (Fixing a Broken Acquisition)
Ezoic came in handy when we were trying to fix our first acquisition, a small technology blog which was running way behind our revenue forecast. Our strategy was simple:
- Increase the blog’s traffic until we could flip the site to Ezoic’s platform
- Use Ezoic’s platform to get premium advertisers on the website
This worked brilliantly, tripling our advertising revenue per visitor. Check out the chart below. It shows our revenue per visitor by month relative to our pre-Ezoic baseline. As you can see, we had an quick bump in revenue followed by slow progress upwards.
Our higher Ezoic earnings played a key role in turning this acquisition around.
Ezoic Review – Act III (Premium Ad Program)
But wait! There’s more!
We just started Ezoic’s premium advertising program. This allows the website owner to participate in direct sold campaigns from premium advertisers for their website, which can earn substantially higher advertising rates that regular traffic.
This does come at a cost – you need to pay a substantial monthly fee to participate in the program. However, we are seeing a nice return on this investment (and have stayed with the program). This added several thousand dollars per month to our earnings.
Overall we’re extremely happy with our move onto Ezoic’s platform. From a financial perspective, average monthly earnings have more than doubled. This helped us to milk another year of growth out of a mature niche (traffic has peaked).
Their platform has also simplified portfolio features. Here are some things we use daily:
- The Ezoic dashboard, a consolidated view of traffic and revenue for our top sites
- Single point of contact for advertising related issues (who can talk to Google)
- Big Data Analytics – shows metrics we can’t get from Google Analytics
- Free automated tools to speed up how fast a WordPress site loads
Speaking as a publisher with multiple sites, this saves us a ton of administrative and technical time which we’re able to put back into creating and promoting our content.
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FAQ (Updated 4/26/2020)
How Much Does Ezoic Cost?
Ezoic offers several pricing tiers. For basic advertising management, which is the default for all new accounts, they offer two options:
- Free – if you let them run an ad at the bottom of your page
- 10% of revenue – at which point you collect everything from the page
Most folks choose the “free ad” option which is usually a slightly better deal. (Ask your account manager for specifics).
If you decide to invest in the Ezoic Premium Program, there is a monthly fee (varies by website earnings) which is supposed to be offset by higher earnings from premium ad inventory. We’re currently paying a 4 figure monthly sum for this service and are earning a good return on this fee.
What Is Ezoic? Ezoic vs. AdSense
As I mentioned about, we discovered Ezoic when we were looking for ways to increase average AdSense revenue by increasing the average AdSense revenue per pageview.
Ezoic’s flagship offering is the Ezoic display ad tester. This is a user-friendly optimization system wrapped around Google’s AdExchange system. They do several things to increase your ad revenue:
- Expose your ad inventory to a larger (and more competitive) set of bidders
- Use Ezoic’s Ad / AdSense mediation to let other ad networks to bid
- Optimize which of the potential ad slots on a web page show ads
- Tailor their optimization settings to different types of user traffic
All of these things help increase your ad revenue.
How Does Ezoic Integration Work?
You may be wondering how to setup Ezoic. Ezoic Integration is simple and there are three common ways to get setup on their platform. Your Ezoic account manager can help you select the right option. The three options include:
- Pointing your DNS settings towards the Ezoic CDN (recommended approach)
- Installing the Ezoic WordPress Plugin (good for bloggers)
We can usually integrate a new website onto their platform in under 20 minutes. They manage getting approvals from their ad network partners. Ezoic Support is available to help with the onboarding process.
Once you are set up on their platform, you will need to add what they call placeholders to your website. The ad tester application will use these to trigger groups of ad placements on your website. This includes testing multiple ad sizes and locations. Site owners have control over what ads run in which location, which you can administer through:
- Directly inserting ad placeholder code on a webpage (HTML snippet)
- Using the Ezoic Chrome Extension
- Using the Ezoic Plugin (WordPress plugin)
What is The Ezoic Premium Program?
Up until this point, we’ve been talking about programmatic advertising. Every ad impression on your website went through a large advertising exchange and was priced by machines. The premium program opens up another source of inventory: higher priced direct buys from top brands.
The Ezoic Premium offering is a partnership with their top websites where Ezoic is directly selling ad inventory to top brands and splitting the profits with their publishers. There is a charge for this: while Ezoic usually makes their money from running an “extra ad” on your website (at the bottom), premium program members pay a fixed monthly fee. This entitles you to a share of the advertising volume generated through direct sales.
This fee isn’t cheap either: most Ezoic Premium customers pay a four figure monthly sum, larger publishers may be charge even more than that.
Does it work? We’ve been happy with our results, which has fully earned back our fees with a substantial profit. I’ve heard similar report from other publishers. And it absolutely clobbers the stock market, while we’re at it…
The program also gets you a higher level of service from their account management group (Ezoic premium review) and free access to various other services. Your data gets priority when it comes to reporting and analytics processing. There are other technical advantages such as access to Ezoci’s API and deeper information on which ad units are performing best.
What Else Does Ezoic Offer?
They’ve extended their offerings over the past 18 month to deliver other services to publishers beyond ad optimization. One handy tool, currently open to the public, is the Ezoic Ad Revenue Index. This is a public index (like the stock market) of the average display advertising rates in their portfolio. Very useful for looking at industry ad rate trends.
There are three items I’d like to discuss in a bit more detail:
- The Ezoic Layout Tester
- The Cloudflare app
- The Ezoic Site Speed app
The Ezoic Layout tester is basically the ad tester on steroids. Do you like the idea of doing lots of ad testing? Imagine being able to do similar testing with different elements of your website layout. The layout tester does this, where you configure the layout tester app to test versions of some standard templates which have performed well for similar websites. We’ve got one of our websites in this program – the performance is decent. It’s worth a try.
With regards to Cloudflare, the Ezoic Cloudflare account gives you access to a free CDN (content delivery network service) which can speed up your site. This is highly recommended for WordPress blogs and websites which serve a global audience. Your account manager can show you how to do this.
The site speed application takes a similar approach, integrating many site speed best practices directly into the Ezoic platform. This includes features such as optimizing code, leaning out file and html structures, and similar improvements. There is a special focus on optimizing mobile site speed, since has influences on Google’s search engine ranking logic. For more details about this, consult with your account manager.
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