The Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge: 2022 Update

content upgrade challenge

Dec. 6, 2023: This blog post has been updated to reflect the sale of Grow Social and Grow Social Pro to NerdPress. The plugin is now called Hubbub; more information about the sale can be found on our Hubbub landing page.

Hello there! I’m Cristina, Publisher Support Specialist and Optimization Expert. A big part of my job here at Mediavine is helping publishers maximize their ad revenue. I’m super excited to share that we have revamped the Content Upgrade Challenge to help you optimize your site to earn more!

Young woman holding a smartphone

New for 2022: We’re excited to help you give yourself a raise! We’ll be walking through the Content Upgrade Challenge workbook together in our Facebook group, talking through the tips and tricks and sharing posts that explain the reasoning behind our recommendations along the way.

Join us in our Facebook group for community support!

After joining, check out and print our PDF of the workbook. You’ll need it to organize your optimizations.

What’s new in the workbook?

  • Updated ad settings and recommendations
  • Worksheet to help you dive into page-level data
  • Longer SEO checklist based on SEO Like A CEO
  • Video checklist to make sure they’re performing optimally

(If you’re a person who likes digital work, we also have the workbook in spreadsheet form.)

What is the Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge?

We launched our first Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge in October 2018 to help publishers leave no stone unturned when optimizing content for Q4. The Mediavine Content Upgrade Challenge is back, redesigned and armed with the most up-to-date tips and best practices to help you maximize your income at any time of year!

A lot has changed in the past few years. While many things have remained the same when it comes to what makes for great performing ads (content length, short paragraphs, optimizing your most valuable content, etc), we have lots of new tricks up our sleeves as well as some updated best practices to pass on.

But one thing that will never change, for the Content Upgrade Challenge and for all of us at Mediavine, is to make sure you’re ready to earn as much as you can YEAR-ROUND!

woman typing on a laptop on a white desk next to plants

Step 1 — Follow along with the first blog post in the series and do the Google Analytics Audit to find last year’s top posts for every month of a quarter to find which posts to optimize. The best way to predict what posts will trend this year is to look back and see what posts were popular with your readers the previous year.

Step 2 — Get tips from the second post to analyze and optimize your top posts. Once you have a good idea of what content to focus on, analyze those posts and optimize them. Do an ad audit and a site audit. Make sure you’re getting every impression you can!

Step 3 — Read through the third Challenge post to share your work and track your progress. Make the most of that optimized content through social shares and keep up with your growth!

What’s new since 2018

The new Mediavine Dashboard with page-level data

Dashboard 2.0 opened up a wealth of data including average impressions per page, fill rates, CPMs and viewability. Now you’ll be able to see how optimizing your posts can translate into revenue on the page-level, and you can really dig into what posts are earning well for you and what posts need further optimization.

someone typing on laptop with a teal cover and mediavine stickers

How to tell why a post isn’t earning well

Your Ad Revenue essentially comes down to a simple equation:

CPM * Impressions / 1000 = Your Money!

How much advertisers spend on a post and how many ads that are viewed by your reader are big parts of the equation of how you earn. If you notice a post with a lower RPM or lower overall revenue, look at the impressions and CPM for that post to see what part of the equation is lacking.


The metric that you have the most control over is Impression/Page. This is the average number of impressions served per pageview.

How your readers interact with your content plays a big role in how your ads perform. Since this can be so crucial, impressions/page data gives you a good idea of reader behavior on your site. Is your most valuable content too high in the post? Look at your posts on both desktop and mobile and really look at it from the perspective of a reader to find why those impression numbers are so low.

A good thing to keep in mind is that impressions are not the number of ads per page, but the number of actual ads served. A high number of impressions is a great indicator that your post is well optimized and your readers are really engaging with your content. Low impression numbers mean you have some more work to do!

Are you using a jump button? Have you turned on our arrival unit yet? The arrival unit — an ad placed just before the recipe card — helps publishers utilizing a jump button recover revenue by providing them with a highly viewable ad. Publishers using a Jump to Recipe or Jump to Card + Mediavine-exclusive ad optimizations do not see a loss in revenue or viewability.

man and woman on laptops

What does it mean if my CPM is lower?

Just like many different factors can go into your RPM and overall earnings, CPM is influenced by a lot of different things as well. These can include:

  • Your Traffic — Where your readers are coming from, what device they’re on, demographics, and a multitude of things can play a role in how much advertisers will spend.
  • Viewability — Advertisers will pay more if they feel confident their ad will be seen by the reader. Things like page speed and how quickly your readers scroll through your content can impact your site-wide viewability score.
  • Your keywords — Do you have any words in your post that might not be considered “family-friendly?”

Looking for an easy way to boost your site-wide viewability score? Run, don’t walk, to turn on our new InView technology. InView keeps any horizontal banner ad in view at the top of the screen as the user scrolls using the existing Optimize Ads for CLS placeholder box.

The average increase to in-content and recipe ad viewability with InView is 8.22%, so it’s definitely worth your time to learn more about the recommended InView settings and other viewability increasing tips in our help doc.

It’s not always possible to directly control your CPM, but gaining insight into how those numbers are being influenced on your site is beneficial, and can help you know where to focus your energy.

New Video Features like the Universal Player

Many publishers earn 20–30% of their ad revenue from video alone so it’s pretty huge! And now, with the Universal Player, you don’t even need to create your own original video content to cash in on those high CPMs.

When the Universal Player setting is enabled in your Mediavine Dashboard, the Player will run an outstream ad on any page on your website that does not contain a video, maximizing your revenue opportunities. Visit the help doc for recommended settings and how to set up the Universal Player in your Dashboard today.

woman filming a video


Grow is Mediavine’s new audience engagement platform. It works directly with the script wrapper that Mediavine publishers already have implemented on their site and is not only beneficial for earnings, but great for readers as well!

Grow allows your readers to log in to save their favorites, build recipe boxes, share content and everything else they’ll love. It will also help you build your email list with our incredible Subscribe and Spotlight features as well as collect very important first-party data.


In 2018, we officially launched Create by Mediavine®, the card that marks up your content for schema and opens up that ad unit beyond the recipe-writing crew to all of the world’s bloggers who run “How-To” content, so they can take advantage of this unit as well.

The List feature is great for round-ups too. It makes creating a round-up post of both yours and your friend’s content a breeze meaning more posts to earn from without too much extra work. Win-win, right? We’ve loved seeing how our publishers have used Create so be sure to check out our list of creative ways to use Create!

Grow Social Pro*

Grow Social Pro is our social sharing WordPress plugin that includes options for social share buttons and some powerful Pinterest settings to help you put your Pinterest game on autopilot.

With Grow Social Pro you’ll be able to set custom and hidden Pinterest images for each of your posts that includes a section dedicated to Pinterest descriptions so you can make the most out of your keywords and Pinterest SEO plan.

If you’re just getting started with Grow and Pinterest, make sure to read the blog post about how to use Grow for Pinterest.

*As of December 6, 2023, Grow Social and Grow Social Pro have been acquired by NerdPress. More information is available here.

Now, let’s get that content upgrade going!

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