The Mediavine Application Process, GA4 Update

Person typing on a laptop birds eye view

The switch from Universal Analytics to GA4 is well underway, and as we all learn about these new metrics, adjust perspectives on how we measure success on our sites, and recalibrate to account for the differences (we see you lovers of real-time analytics), here at Mediavine we also have to shift our application process a bit. 

All of the components that we look for in a quality site are still the same, but in GA4, some of the terminology has changed. So! I’m here today to walk you through what makes a great Mediavine site and to help demystify some of the new metrics.

Understanding how readers use your content (all details you can glean from analytics) is the best way to ensure the sustainable growth and success of your business. 

What Mediavine looks for in an application

It’s widely known that Mediavine has what is perhaps the most stringent vetting process around. This keeps our traffic quality high and is one of the reasons that Mediavine boasts higher CPMs than all of our competitors.

Advertisers know that spending on Mediavine sites is a great return on their investment, and maintaining that reputation starts with our Application and Onboarding process. 

Minimum Traffic Requirements

The minimum traffic required to apply for Mediavine Ad Management is 50,000 sessions per month, based on the last 30 days. This hasn’t changed. 

What has changed is where you find that metric.

When you log in to your GA4 account, this is the default view:

Finding Sessions in GA4.

To find sessions, toggle open the Event Count metric and select Sessions from that menu. Then you can adjust the date range to reflect the last 30 days.

Drilling down into Sessions in GA4

Are we evaluating Sessions? Or Engaged Sessions? 

GA4 offers two separate Sessions metrics: Sessions and Engaged Sessions. Both offer really valuable insights into how readers are using your site.

 In Analytics, a Session initiates when a user either opens your app in the foreground or views a page or screen and no session is currently active (e.g. their previous session has timed out).

An Engaged Session is a session that lasts longer than 10 seconds, has a conversion event, or has at least 2 pageviews or screenviews.

When you apply to Mediavine using your GA4 account, we are evaluating Sessions because it most closely mirrors sessions in Universal Analytics. 

A Session in Universal Analytics is defined by Google as a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. A single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions and e-commerce transactions. 

GA4 defines a Session event the same way, and just like Universal Analytics, a session times out after 30 minutes of inactivity. 

Traffic is just one piece of the puzzle. 

A minimum of 50,000 sessions per month is the very first, most basic requirement. 

Remember the quality I mentioned? Let’s take a look at what that means for a site applying to Mediavine.

  • Original Content! This is an important place to start. We are looking for well-written, well-organized content that is original and belongs to the site owner. Original photography or licensed stock photos are great additions. The internet is a visual place. We DO check for proper attribution and permissions for images. 
  • Brand safe content. Our SVP of Sales and Revenue wrote a great post a few years ago about keyword anti-targeting. Advertisers are looking for family-friendly content because serving their ads on a website is effectively like product placement. We steer clear of content related to violence, extremism, and topics that are overly salacious, just to give a few examples. 
  • Users and Pageviews. The numbers have to make sense. We are looking at the number of users and pageviews relative to sessions. Most lifestyle websites average about 1.2 pages per session. Depending on the content, that metric can move up or down, but if it’s too high that can indicate a reliance on things like slideshows that artificially inflate pageviews and are not great for engagement (or your wallet). 
  • Bounce Rate. This is one metric that does calculate a little differently in GA4. In Universal analytics, a typical bounce rate for a lifestyle site is between 75-90%, especially with a high volume of search traffic. In GA4, bounce rate is the inverse of that engaged sessions metric. So if your bounce rate is 66%, engaged sessions are at 34%.
  • Countries of Origin. Traffic from the US monetizes at a higher rate than traffic from other countries. But that is not to say that we don’t accept international traffic — WE DO! What we are looking for here is a breakdown in locations that will be good for revenue. Canada, the UK, Australia and the Netherlands all also tend to be high on the list for advertiser spend. If you are already a Mediavine publisher you can check out the Country report in your dashboard to get an idea about how advertisers spend in different countries around the world. Our focus here is to be sure that any site we launch is actually going to be happy with revenue and RPM. 
  • Average Session Duration. Are readers engaged with the content? If not can we see an easy answer as to why? 
  • Devices and Browsers. Most sites are approximately 75%+ mobile traffic. That can vary a little based on niche, so we are checking to be sure that the details here all work together with the other puzzle pieces and that the dots all connect related to the content on the site. 
  • Varied traffic sources. The majority of Mediavine sites have Google as their top traffic source. Y’all are winning the SEO game. High Google traffic is not required though; social traffic, as well as direct and email traffic, are all also valuable sources. Having a variety of sources lets us know more about how you have built your readership, and it allows us to follow your readers from the beginning of their journey so that we can offer insights into how we can better monetize a site. 
  • Top posts and pages. Having an eye on the most-trafficked content on your site is always going to help you monetize more effectively. We read your posts! I always know we have a great application when I start bookmarking things or when I get lost in the reading and forget that I am supposed to be doing work.

None of these puzzle pieces will yield an approved application on their own. Our Applications and Onboarding Team are experts in figuring out how readers use a site, how well that site will perform, and if the traffic is sustainable. 

GA4 doesn’t change any of this, and as we all move forward into this new world of metrics and reporting, we look forward to offering you all more insights into how to use your analytics to continue to grow your business.

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