Mediavine In-Content Ad Settings

In-Content Ad Settings: Choose Wisely For Improved RPM and UX

Ever since we launched our new in-content ad logic as a Coalition for Better Ads partner, you’ve probably noticed a number of new additions to your Dashboard.

Thanks to the in-content ad logic, Mediavine publishers have the ability to change ad density, the spacing between ads, and limits to the overall number of ads.

Since no two websites are exactly alike, we like to give publishers as much control as possible, but we also understand that with more options come more questions.

It’s tough to know the perfect settings for your site, which is why we’re breaking down what these settings do and offering some recommendations for different types of bloggers below.

Ad Density & Frequency Explained

Our in-content logic follows standards set by the Coalition for Better Ads in determining how often to insert advertisements into publishers’ content.

In the fraction of a second when your page loads, we measure the “height” of your content to ensure that the included ads do not exceed that recommended density.

It may sound complicated, but the density is a simple calculation: The sum of the height of all of the ads, combined, divided by the total height of your content.

Note: In-content ads, by definition, only apply to the main area of your content, so the density won’t take into consideration headers, footers, related posts, etc. 

Bottom line: The higher the density you choose, the greater percentage of your content will contain ads. We allow up to the maximum CBA standards, or 30%.

Mediavine dashboard in-content ad settings

How much Ad Density is just right?

For mobile, we recommend going high.

This is (most likely) where most readers view your content, and with a lot less real estate on mobile screens, in-content ads are critically important to maximizing your RPM.

Our default setting is 28% and we recommend keeping it there, below CBA limits, safe from any Chrome ad filtering and considered a solid user experience by both standards.

That being said, you can certainly raise the density to the full 30% if you’re comfortable with that, or conversely, dial it down below 28% if you feel it’s disrupting UX.

On desktop, we default to a lower setting.

Much lower, in fact: 20%. Desktop ads in general are worth more than their mobile counterparts, and additional ad units such as the sidebar contribute greatly to your RPM.

As such, in-content ads don’t have to shoulder as big a burden, and you can run fewer of them. We recommend leaving this setting alone and focusing on others, such as …

Ad Limits & Why We Set Them High

We give our publishers the ability to limit the total number of in-content ads that appear on a page. Our in-content logic will never exceed this amount.

Once you cap the amount, our logic will automatically space the ads out throughout your content, effectively giving you a lower density.

Our default settings for in-content ads are 9 on desktop and 12 on mobile. If these totals seem high, that’s because they are. On purpose.

Not unlike when you scroll through your Facebook feed and never stop seeing ads every so often, we don’t want you to limit earnings from your content, either.

Limits of nine and 12 should be more than enough for most pages, but you can disable these caps altogether if you want to ensure that you’ll never run out of ads.

When should you adjust the Ad Limit?

If you write a mix of short- and long-form content, and believe the long-form content is showing too many ads, we’ll typically recommend you use a limit rather than adjust density.

These default settings primarily exist for longer-form content, as most shorter-form content would never generate 9 or 12 ads, making this something of a moot point.

That being said, a high ad density is vital for monetizing short-form content, while a lower density shouldn’t hurt your earnings from longer-form content.

By setting a general ad limit for your content, rather than trying to obsess over the ad density, our ad logic takes care of this automatically for you.

Again, every site is different, but we always recommend using the limit settings rather than tweaking density if you offer a mixture of short- and long-form content.

As far as lowering ad limits, you can absolutely do so – it’s among the Dashboard settings for a reason -but you risk potentially harming your RPM, especially on mobile.

The long and short of it: If you nix the limits or set higher ones, you can do so with confidence in the research and density levels set by the CBA and applied by Mediavine.

Minimum Ad Spacing: How It Fits In

Now for the next piece of the puzzle. Our in-content logic inserts ads as often as it can to meet the ad density you select. This can mean multiple ads relatively close to each other.

Note: This is NOT a policy violation.

CBA logic is based on total “height” of content, NOT individual screen views, which is why we moved away from that metric in our calculations.

However, logic based on height alone doesn’t always lead to the best user experience, so we added a “minimum” buffer of text or images between ads.

Where should you set Minimum Ad Spacing?

Our default setting of 2 should work in most cases, but if you’ve taken our advice and write a lot of shorter sentences and paragraphs, you may want to bump that up to 3.

Especially on desktop, ads running too close together won’t perform great from a viewability or engagement standpoint, and again won’t be the best user experience.

By contrast, if you rely on longer, less-web friendly paragraphs, there won’t be many spots for in-content ads, so we’d suggest lowering that setting to 1 on desktop and mobile.

female blogger

In-Content Placement Rules & How We Define Them

Last but not least, we offer an advanced setting that controls how the in-content logic places ads around images within your content.

You can choose to have the in-content ad logic only insert ads after text paragraphs, between text paragraphs, or anywhere.

For these purposes, a text paragraph is defined as a block of text containing words without images, video, iframe, or other non-text based content.

Why would you change Placement Rules?

Ever see an ad right after an image?

Not the best look, to state the obvious. Ads, much like images, are very visually driven. Having them appear back-to-back isn’t always aesthetically pleasing.

This setting also dates back to Mediavine’s previous (and now discontinued) in-screen based logic, when the conventional wisdom was that two ads could not appear in the same screen view.

Using this, we’re also able to ensure that if you were running GumGum In-Image ads, in-content ads wouldn’t appear directly after a GumGum In-Image Ad.

One question this may lead to: If ads appearing only after text paragraphs look better, and may lead to better ad engagement, why isn’t that the default?

The issue is that you need a lot of short, web-friendly text paragraphs and long-form content overall in order to change this setting without severely impacting your RPM.

If you do, you can consider testing the only after text paragraphs setting. In the short term, you’ll notice a negative impact to your RPM, but it may pay off in the long run.

After all, if ad engagement goes up, your CPMs are likely to do so as well, which could make up for fewer ad impressions you’re getting as a result.

And not insignificantly, we can nearly guarantee you’ll prefer the way your ads work.

TL;DR

We know.

The in-content settings which are set as defaults are all marked as default in the content section of the ad settings tab of your Dashboard.

Feel free to:

  1. Set everything there if you’re nervous.
  2. Email publishers@mediavine.com and have us take look at your site and offer advice on your settings. Our team is your team, 24/7/365.

4 thoughts on “In-Content Ad Settings: Choose Wisely For Improved RPM and UX”

  1. I don’t know if you’ll see this or reply, but I’d like to offer some feedback as a reader of blogs. I realize I’m probably torpedoing my own opportunity to work with you in the future, but I accept that.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have a blog with AdSense. I’ve been contemplating asking to join MediaVine, but as a blog reader I’ve been completely turned off the past few months.

    MediaVine ads have so taken over blogs that use them that I automatically click off a website if I see MediaVine ads loading. They are overwhelming. There are simply too many of them. I know you are trying to maximize revenue for your bloggers, but as a reader… Those bloggers have lost me. I don’t care how great the content is. This change you have implemented has ruined the user experience. It really has.

    I am all for bloggers making money. But it has crossed the line from making money to being completely distracting and annoying. On many of your sites, it’s almost impossible to read the content because there are so many random ads of various sizes and styles constantly disrupting the flow. Add in subscription boxes and Pinterest boxes and everything else flying in and the user experience is truly horrible at times.

    I’m honestly disappointed. I was excited to work with you, but not any longer.

    Sallie

    1. Amber Bracegirdle says:

      Hi Sallie,

      We operate on full transparency around here. Not only did we see your reply, we take your feedback very seriously and willingly. You’re also not torpedoing any chance to work with us. In fact, I’d argue that we’re a better fit for you than any other ad provider out there, because we offer these configurable settings. From our research, we’re the only ones that do.

      That’s actually the entire point of this blog post. As you can see from the numerous amount of settings, bloggers with Mediavine are in complete control of their ad settings. While we can’t control the additional elements they add, like subscription pop-ups, we definitely don’t advocate that anyone turn up the ads so much as to alienate readers.

      But each blogger knows their own audience best of all. We don’t presume to know for them, which is why we offer such a wide array of settings. And then on top of that, we operate within the Coalition for Better Ads recommendations as well. No matter what a blogger wishes, we will never allow the ads to surpass those.

      I realize that may still be too much for you, and that is understandable. Every person’s limit to advertising is different. If you were a Mediavine blogger, you could set your advertising limits to be very minimal. Or maximum, but knowing that you’d never move beyond what the CBA (whose members include Google, Microsoft, and Facebook) recommends.

      We’re grateful that you took the time to give us your feedback, and wish you all the best.

      Amber
      Co-Founder, Mediavine

  2. Hi Amber,

    Thank you for your reply. My only response is that while the ad usage may fit within what the CBA recommends, it doesn’t mean it is giving a quality user experience. This is especially true when the blogger has 3-5 ads (including video) that automatically launch the instant a reader lands and then has other things that start within seconds of someone landing on their site.

    They may technically be within the CBA guidelines, but I do think it hurts your brand as well. Mediavine is prominently displayed on every one of those ads. There have been some I’ve encountered in recent weeks via Pinterest and Google search that were so bad I wished I had kept URLs to send you and show you what I mean.

    I know I’m not the only one who has noticed this experience in recent months. It has come up in conversations regarding advertising.

    Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion. Some people would have simply deleted my original comment, but it is meant as helpful feedback. I know from interacting with many bloggers in blogging groups that people greatly appreciate you. But I believe Mediavine users would benefit from looking honestly at the user experience and not just through the lens of $$$. One of my favorite sayings is “Just because you can it doesn’t mean you should.” Some bloggers and website owners would really benefit from considering that wisdom.

    Best wishes to you and your team!
    Sallie

    1. Amber Bracegirdle says:

      Hey Sallie,

      We totally understand your perspective, and always agree that user experience is more important than anything. The CBA guidelines weren’t created out of nowhere – millions of dollars and thousands of hours of research went into how the CBA determined its guidelines.

      Google uses them for it’s Ad Experience auditing, and for its decisions on Chrome-filtering. We understand that those guidelines aren’t going to be for everyone, which is why we provide the ability to alter them. But the CBA is creating guidelines that, based on their research, appeal to the largest concentration of readers, which makes the most sense for anyone wishing to make ad quality and quantity a priority, but also still earn an income.

      The truth is, there’s no way to please every person when it comes to advertising, but the CBA does its best to find common ground, and that’s why we’ve aligned ourselves with them. The data backs up these decisions, which is important to us, because we base all our decisions on data too.

      All the best,

      Amber

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