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Tired of reading Ezoic reviews by some blogger who just installed it on their “how to get started in blogging” website? Fine, 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 three years?
I’ll skip to the punchline. They’ve been a great partner – in terms of both improving our revenue and implementation support. The latter is just as important as the revenue lift, by the way, once you get to a certain scale. When you’re running 30 websites, most of which are still in the “pre-money” growth phase, you don’t have the time to mess around with broken processes, code issues, and ad networks that insist on turning every interaction into a conference call with a junior “account executive”.
Once you understand how to use their system correctly, the Ezoic platform is efficient, very scalable, and adds a lot of value beyond ad revenue. While they aren’t the only premium display advertising network, they are one of the easiest ones to work with if you’ve got a large site or several projects.
We’ve made double or triple the ad income for every website of the 11 websites we’ve moved onto the Ezoic ad tester. The lift in ad earnings is apparent within a month or two.
If you’re ready to take advantage of their free trial, Sign Up Here.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll walk through our playbook for using Ezoic’s platform to earn more money from our websites. We’re going to split this into a couple of parts:
- Ezoic vs. AdSense – Value of Using a Premium Ad Network
- Automated Optimization – How To Increase AdSense Revenue
- Scaling Up – Easy way to monetize multiple websites
- Beyond Revenue – Better Traffic, User Experience, Compliance
With those goals in mind, lets get started…
Ezoic vs AdSense – The Starting Point
Most small publishers are familiar with Google’s AdSense ads product, which is the entry point into the market to sell display advertising space to brands. 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.
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). Generally speaking, the more clicks on the ads, the more revenue you earn. Which prompts a natural question – how do you optimize AdSense revenue?
This often starts as a quest on how to increase Google AdSense clicks. There are a lot of ways to do this, ranging from page layout to ad placement. While you can easily increase average AdSense revenue through this approach, testing is often very time consuming and you’ve got to navigate a minefield of Google ad placement policies and invalid clicks policies.
If you truly want to increase AdSense revenue on blog – without putting your account at risk – you need to go a bit deeper into the process behind how Google bundles and auctions off the ad space to brand buyers.
Let’s take a look at the Doubleclick ad exchange, the digital ad market behind the scenes. This is where your AdSense ad space is being sold.
Doubleclick Ad Exchange vs Adsense
It’s time to take the training wheels off your bike.
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 robot-managed campaign.
Behind the scenes, all that available ad inventory goes into a large digital Ad Exchange managed by DoubleClick, a Google subsidiary. This is an open platform, where many different ad networks can bid. Some of whom will pay more than Google for the opportunity to run an ad on your website.
As a sheltered little AdSense publisher, you’re spared this complexity. For advanced publishers, you can start to look at DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), a better way to set up ads on your website. You get more options, with more ways to earn money… and can bring other bidders into the mix.
For a small publisher, this is a lot of work – more money, but more work. Similar to the act of shuffling ad placements around your website to increase your advertising revenue. I did both of these activities myself for a couple years before I tried Ezoic. A revenue bump, with a lot of extra work.
Ezoic basically automates this. All of it. Point your site at their platform (they’ve got a fast CDN to help you serve it), tag a few potential spots to place advertising (Ezoic ad placeholders, for a potential ad unit). They take it from there. The Ezoic system is constantly split testing the ideas.
Their platform connects into Ad Exchange, unlocking the advanced settings available to experienced publishers, and uses machine learning to optimize how your website is set up behind the scenes. Their display ad tester sets up combinations of different ads on your page and continuously optimizes this mix of ad combination ideas to generate as much ad revenue per visit as possible. It tests ad variations as well, running through the different ad size options for a given ad position.
And they do all of this at a far deeper level than a human analyst can do. When I optimized websites manually, I would tweak a couple of settings on a web page at time. They touch all of them. Vary their strategies by factors such as where a visitor came from. Adjust which ads show based on how long this particular visitor has been looking at the website. Way deeper than anything I could have ever executed on my own.
And this is happens every day, for every website on the platform.
Seeing the potential yet?
Next Step Up: Premium Advertising Demand
Google is shy. We had crossed six figures of revenue before we ever heard a peep from an actual human in their organization. And started getting attention from other 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.
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. And they’ll pay insane amounts to get that ad space.
Back to Ezoic for a moment. Many of these premium ad buyers are already connected with Ezoic’s platform, so I get access to their demand (the Ezoic ad partner network) the instant we set up Ezoic’s ad program. The result? Way more competition in that ad auction, between some buyers with hefty budgets who want my traffic.
And like automated testing, this happens automatically. For every site which we place on their platform. Producing an instant jump in website revenue.
So What If You Run Multiple Websites?
This is actually how Ezoic started a decade ago. A group of 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 optimized their AdSense ads. Or any of the other issues we mentioned.
Bear in mind that 2010 AdSense optimization was super 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 are expensive. So most of these website had bad ad placement.
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.
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.
So these investors had a quick and easy way to profit: buy websites with bad ad placement, usually for some multiple of current revenue, stick it on the optimization platform – and watch earnings increase dramatically. Take resulting cash flow and buy more websites (at 2 – 3 X annual ad revenue).
Using Ezoic To Reduce Your Headaches
It turns out there are other advantages to their platform. Ezoic is able to use data to optimize the visitor 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.
Plus their platform automatically manages many Google policy compliance issues. Ezoic is an Google Certified Publishing Partner, which gives them an inside relationship with Google’s ad placement compliance group. I look at certified publishing partner status as an insurance policy of sorts, an extra layer of appeal if things go seriously wrong. They know who to call.
Ezoic Review – Our 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. Not a bad revenue increase for a fairly short integration process. We moved all of our top sites on their platform along with a few smaller sites that are growing quickly. (update December 2020: now 11 websites on the platform)
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 ad platform 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 website revenue per visitor. 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.
Ready To Take A Closer Look? Sign up for a free trial.
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 digital 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.
FAQ (Updated 12/28/2020)
How do you join Ezoic and what are the requirements?
Joining is easy – sign up for a free trial via this link (Sign up Here).
The Ezoic requirements for a website are minimum traffic of 15,000 visits per month, although they are flexible on this with established customers. Beyond that the website should be compliant with Google / AdSense’s general terms of service in terms of ad placement, content, and traffic.
Ezoic’s minimum traffic requirement is driven by the need to have sufficient data. The Ezoic traffic requirements ensure an adequate sample size for the display ad tester. We’ve tested Ezoic ads for a wide variety of sites (for this Ezoic review); small sites get a lift from access to better display ad networks, larger sites benefit from better ad placement. Ezoic RPM results are generally higher due to this optimization.
Do you need AdSense for Ezoic?
No but it helps. Your website will need to be approved via the same process.
If your website cannot be approved by AdSense, Ezoic might be able to help you figure out and resolve the issue in question. It’s worth checking, especially if you’ve got a decent sized website that is attractive to advertisers. Sign up through this link (Sign up Here) and they’ll be in touch.
What About Affiliate Marketing Offers?
There aren’t any conflicts between Ezoic and affiliate marketing offers. If you’re an affiliate marketer, you can keep running offers on the website. Similarly, if you’ve built another digital marketing program (like a course or e-commerce offer), you can keep those deals live as well.
In fact, you have the option of taking back ad inventory from Ezoic and using that space to run your own offers. I’ve used this to run my own deals as a minimum bid house ad on Ezoic’s ad servers. This gives a site owner multiple ways to monetize their asset.
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.
Ezoic Problems – Potential Issues
The most important piece of advice I can give about Ezoic problem is don’t be afraid to reach out to your Ezoic rep to get help. We’ve had our share of challenges and resolved them along the way.
We actually failed the first time we attempted their DNS integration. We’ve done it many times since then, once we learned how the process works. It’s a quick and simple process (cut & paste some information at your registrar), but can be a little confusing at first. Your account manager can quickly solve any problems. (I wish we had called them when we first tried it)
The other common challenge is related to the speed of their CDN, especially if you’ve already got a fast website. Their process is designed to quickly and consistently serve content to a global audience. It works very well with static content (where the article doesn’t change) and can have issues with dynamic content (where the page constantly calls back to the webserver). They’ve got other options for sites with dynamic content (ask your account manager). They’ve also got an Ezoic speed speed app which works wonders on the other aspects of serving your website (simplifying and compressing code and design elements), for a net improvement in user speed.
In any event, contact your account manager for an Ezoic site speed review if there’s a problem. They’ve got a number of ways to address these issues.
In rare situations, you may encounter issues with ezoic ads not showing. This is generally either an issue with ad.txt or system setup issues for a new website. Both are easily addressed (at the risk of sounding like a broken record, contact your Ezoic Rep. This was handled quickly for our sites).
Their optimization system is designed to allow you to balance the volume of advertising against user experience metrics. You have the ability to set limits on how many ads you want to show on a particular page, along with the broader balance of revenue vs. user experience you want to pursue.
What Is Ezoic? Ezoic vs AdSense
As I mentioned above (in this Ezoic review), 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.
Ezoic Payment Terms
Ezoic payment – they have multiple methods and pay on a net 30 schedule.
Media net vs Ezoic
Not really a contest at this point. Media.net used to have some notoriety as the best paying network for small website owners after AdSense. With the more recent features at Ezoic and their access to Google’s demand, at this this point Media.net basically serves as a backup provider for websites that you can’t get approved by Google.
Add the fact that every single action needs to be handled in an international conference call with an account executive (vs. Ezoic’s self serve portal and an Ezoic rep team that prefers to use email) and you’ll appreciate why I went elsewhere. Ezoic’s process is just way faster and paid us far more.
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)
(Update – Ezoic integration WordPress plugin – my Ezoic rep indicated they preferred to only use this for lower volume websites.)
What is The Ezoic Premium Program?
Up until this point in this Ezoic review, 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 (I mean, this is an Ezoic review)? 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
- Ezoic PWA generator
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.
The Ezoic PWA generator will automatically create a progressive web app version of your website if you’ve got appropriate content. This allows it to be downloaded and remain resident on a viewer’s mobile device.
Want some competitive perspective on how other publishers are doing? Ezoic publishes the Ezoic Ad Index, a study of how all the websites on their platform are doing. It’s a good view of average ad rates in the marketplace.
Need More Information? Check Them Out Here.