“With traditional mobile-responsive sites, [sidebar ads] would get pushed down to the bottom, so you wouldn’t have viewability or impressions,” Ostrom said. With mobile templating, which creates a unique layout just for mobile, “you’ll have more impressions and viewability and better ads. It has the potential to be a poor user experience in that they’re seeing more ads, but for us it just has to happen.”
Pinch of Yum wants to improve the mobile experience partially to capitalize on Pinterest. “Pinterest mobile is such a big traffic driver for us, so if we’re able to have those ad impressions count that will be a huge win for us,” Ostrom said.
Blogger Sally McKenney of Sally’s Baking Addiction has seen Pinterest rise to her second-highest source of referrals next to Facebook. “Pinterest is more permanent,” McKenney said. “Something I pinned a year ago can come up.”
While bloggers like Sally and Bjork know they need to be smart about advertising, they keep the focus on content creation first.
McKenney earns the majority of her revenue from advertising, but leaves most of the management and optimization to her primary ad partner, Sovrn, where she has a dedicated rep.
“I’ve worked with so many ad networks in the past, and I’ve left them because I don’t feel comfortable with the amount of support I get,” she said.
She checks in weekly via Sovrn’s interface, Meridian, which will show the usual details like CPM and fill rates along with more unique ones. She can break down CPM by category to see if she gets higher CPMs from health and fitness posts, for example. She can also compare her clearing prices to those of her peers, offering her more transparency into her performance.
The dashboard gives her just enough oversight to turn her focus back to content. “I don’t have time to understand the infrastructure, I’m just concerned with having the content on my blog be successful,” McKenney said.
Even Ostrom, a sophisticated blogger who offers eBooks and training to other food bloggers, recognizes that advertising could be better handled by someone else. He recommends that bloggers understand things like ad networks generally, but keep their focus on content creation, “because without the content, no one is going to come.”
He plans to decrease his focus on managing the advertising side in the future, following his own advice.
“We’re going to start to outsource it,” Ostrom said. “Right now it’s really about putting out fires, it’s not proactive.”
The blog plans to work with AdThrive, which will integrate Pinch of Yum’s current ad networks into DFP and manage it. It charges not on a percentage of revenue, but for the rights to one below-the-fold banner ad placement.
While programmatic is challenging publishers, it’s also hands-off, fitting with the needs of bloggers who need to focus their attention on scaling their blog, not squeezing dollars from it.
“I’m really interested in the direct sales stuff, but I think it makes less and less sense with the rise of programmatic,” Ostrom said. “Because of the reality of where we see the industry headed and our limited bandwidth, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to be focusing on direct sales.”