We’re Still Mediavine3 min read
Mediavine has been in business since 2004, and needless to say, a great deal has changed after almost two decades. We’ve gone from four founders running a publishing company to …
Q4: It’s heeeeere.
And it can be a ghoulish time for content creators. But never fear: The Mediavine Support team is here to guide you to scary good earnings this year.
On this episode of Mediavine On Air, Ghostess with the Mostest Jenny Guy is joined by devilishly good Director of Support Heather Tullos. She’s bringing all her top RPM-raising tips to ensure all treats, no tricks for the holiday season.
You don’t want to miss it!
(Editor’s note: this episode and transcript mentions autoplay settings in the Mediavine Dashboard. Autoplay options have been retired as of February 2023. See this article for more information.)
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[MUSIC PLAYING] JENNY GUY: Hello, and welcome, foolish mortals to another episode of Mediavine’s Teal Talk. I am your host, your ghost host, Jenny Guy. Today is Tuesday October 26, which means that it’s Scorpio season, and Halloween is Sunday.
You might have noticed that things look a little bit different around here today. We are going all in on celebrating the spooky season, and we’re so glad that you’re here to celebrate with us. If you are here with us live, there are some hair-raising prizes for you to win this episode. So make sure that you’re paying attention, and all will be revealed in good time.
Again, welcome. We are so glad that you are here. And speaking of the spooky holiday season, it also happens to be Q4. And if you’ve been a content creator for any length of time, you know that Q4 can be a little spooky for us. It’s marked by increased advertiser spend and a slew of influencer marketing campaigns.
So it has the potential to be the craziest and most lucrative time of the year. But how do you ensure that your Q4 is all treats and no tricks this year? Leave it to my guest for today. Morticia Addams, Director of Support, Heather Tullos, is here. After running a successful blog for the last 10 years, she transitioned to helping build and lead the Mediavine support team, kicking all the ass and taking all the names, while rescuing all the dogs.
Seriously though, adopt, don’t shop. Heather, welcome back. I mean, Morticia. Excuse me. I’m sorry.
HEATHER TULLOS: Hello. Hello, Cruella. You look amazing.
JENNY GUY: As do you look incredible. You look like you’re in gray scale, and I am dying. OK.
So friends, as I said, pay attention. Make sure you’re paying attention to the screen. I won’t tell you why, but you just need to be doing it, and also paying attention to everything that Heather is telling you. She’s going to give us some of her top tips.
If you have questions for the Mistress of Support, please drop them in the comments. She’s going to, like I said, share some top tips and a presentation to start us off. But we will definitely be opening up the floor for your questions later.
All righty, folks. I’m going to turn it over to Heather. We’re going to get this presentation going, and let’s do it.
HEATHER TULLOS: Hi, everybody. It’s me. I feel like you know me. Today, you might not know me as well.
And in case nobody told you, Halloween is my very favorite holiday. So I’m super excited that I got to work with our excellent marketing team to put this presentation together. Also, shout out to Rosie for this beautiful presentation. I cannot take credit for any of it. Yeah.
So we’re going to talk about making more in Q4. I feel like it’s a popular topic. We’ve had a lot of changes in the last year. The approach to how you’re going to make some more money might be a little different than it was in years past. Some of our advice has changed.
And so let’s talk through some of the differences and some of the ways that we’re going to help you make some more money. Hopefully, I will give you a few tips and tricks that you didn’t know already. Tricks and treats, straight from the spooky land of money.
JENNY GUY: If you haven’t met our mascot, this is Leaf. And they are wearing a farmer costume. As you can see, they are pulling a carrot from the Earth which is a money carrot. So that’s the best kind around here.
HEATHER TULLOS: So the first tip we have here, so that you can collect all the money carrots and also Halloween candy–
Is to check your sitewide viewability. Is it 70% or higher? So first, let’s talk about where to find that number.
If you go to your Mediavine Dashboard, and you look at the ad unit breakdown, and then you scroll down to the bottom of all the ad units that you’re running. So you’ll see in-content ads. Hopefully, you’ll see the Universal Player. Scroll down to the end of that, and you’ll see the totals across the bottom.
So you’ll see how many impressions that you’ve run, and we’ll talk about that in a minute. But you’ll also see the average of all of your sitewide viewability. You want that number to be 70% or higher.
The amount of dollars that advertisers spend once you cross that 70% threshold changes drastically. And there are a lot of ways that you can improve viewability. I would say, the very, very first thing is, if you’re using a jump button on your site, I would turn on the Arrival Unit, like 9-1-1, ASAP.
The reason that matters for viewability but also for earnings is because of the way we load our ads. So if your reader skips over your content, we’re not loading all those ads that they skipped. That would be stupid. Because why would an advertiser pay to serve ads that nobody is looking at? Right?
So we want there to be an ad where the reader is jumping to. The idea is that, when we don’t serve all those ads in the middle that nobody sees, that would slow your site down and make for a poor user experience. You need to make sure that, in order to have a paycheck, you’re serving ads where your readers actually are.
So if you’ve got a jump button at the top of your content, whether it’s for a DIY card or a recipe card, make sure that if you click it, especially on mobile, that there are ads where your reader lands. And that there are appropriate ads. Click through your top posts.
The same goes for a table of contents. If you’re using a table of contents in your post, so if you’re not a craft or recipe blogger, you’re not doing DIY tutorials for the home, you might have ways for your readers to skip around your site and land on the H2s that you’ve set up at the top of the page. There are a couple of mistakes that I see a lot. And one is just a table of contents that is so intense that it gives your readers too many options.
When you give them too many options, they don’t know what to choose. It’s like when you put 4,000 things in your sidebar. If they don’t know what to choose, they make no choices. So you need to make sure that you’re simplifying the options that they have. And I know that a lot of people will use table of contents, because Google likes to pull out those little H2s sometimes.
So be deliberate about that information and be deliberate about the choices that you are giving your readers. But also, be deliberate about the fact that when somebody chooses one of those table of contents options, that there are ads where they’re going to land. And sometimes you have to do that. Check your top posts and push the buttons yourself. It’s really the best way to figure that out.
JENNY GUY: Morticia, one moment. I also wanted to say that I become paralyzed with too many choices. It’s like trying to choose where you want to go eat. It’s awful.
Claudia had a really great question for us. So she said, if viewability is 75% in the US, but overseas is 60%, what could cause that?
HEATHER TULLOS: Are you looking in the country breakdown? I’m guessing, probably. That is a good question. I could guess at the answer, but I don’t actually know the answer.
I would guess that probably some of it is just that your site looks different depending on where it’s being served. If you’re in the EU, your reader has to navigate the CMP before they can get to anything. But also, sometimes, you want to make sure that you’re looking at your own site. So if you have the ability to VPN or if you’re in one of those countries, see what your site looks like for that user. Because they’re probably having a different experience.
If you don’t have a lot of readers there, don’t spin your wheels. Make sure that you’re paying attention to where the largest percentage of your traffic is. And just like we have you focus on top posts, because that’s where you can make the biggest impact. Right? I would say, if you’re looking at readers in Italy, and you only have 150 readers in Italy, and that’s less than 2% of your traffic, it’s probably not going to be the most return for your time investment.
JENNY GUY: I’m going to jump in with one more if that’s OK.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: OK. Michelle James said– and I was actually going to follow up on this. Do you recommend not including a table of contents? And if you want a table of contents, you said, don’t overload it. What would you consider the sweet spot?
HEATHER TULLOS: So I mean, a table of contents is great. It’s easy for your readers to navigate your post, especially if you’ve got a really long detailed post. A lot of travel sites really utilize the table of contents in really smart ways.
There’s definitely excellent ways to approach it and go about it. I think it is handy dandy for search traffic. And it will do good things for you there, depending on implement it. But again, you just want to make sure you don’t go wild and crazy with it.
Sometimes– and I feel like I see this more when we are vetting sites that are applying to work with Mediavine than we necessarily do with our publishers. Because you guys have probably already read a lot of our current recommendations. But I don’t know that this one is actually written down anywhere. I would just say, be really deliberate.
If every sentence of your blog post is in the table of contents, then what’s the point of the table of contents? And I have actually seen that. I’ve seen a table of contents employed that way. And I think it was confusing for me. And that means that it’s definitely confusing for a reader.
I think, circling back to viewability, you want to– ads are only viewable– we can only check that metric off if we are figuring out how our users are reading our sites and using our sites. And they do not use your website if they don’t read your blog the same way that you do. I know that we all hope that they are very deliberately consuming our content and are carefully, slowly reading every word that you worked so hard to write down, and edit, and put together. But most of the time, they are not.
I’m sure you all have a few die hards. But most of your readers are skimming, and they’re scanning, just like you do emails. So make sure that you are making it easy for your reader to pick out the important bits of information. And I think that’s what a table of contents really helps, it really helps you to do.
JENNY GUY: I mean, your mom is probably reading all of your words.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: So that’s, yeah, but other than that, I would say, I would maybe check your table of contents on a phone. And if your reader is having to scroll through your table of content–
HEATHER TULLOS: Right. If it leaves one screen through–
JENNY GUY: Right.
HEATHER TULLOS: Maybe you went too far, depending on your font size, again. It’s just like there’s– it’s like, have your eye out for too much of a good thing, I guess, would be the best way to phrase it. And then we skipped over one in the middle that I definitely don’t want to skip. Because I was trying to go in the order of operations here.
But jump to print and jump to video, a lot of people use those. They are redundant. So a jump to print button is only going to be for desktop readers. Right?
If you let them immediately go from the top of your blog post– I don’t know anybody that prints on mobile. I mean, I guess, it’s like you can. But I think that the people that print recipes and don’t just cook from a reader or a phone are probably using desktop computers most of the time.
So a jump to print button is going to take you straight to a page with no ads. If there are ads on your print page, it’s probably one, maybe two. It’s not going to monetize in the same way that monetizing like a blog post would.
And jump to video is just going to take you to your recipe card. Right? Or your DIY card, or your how to. The video should be embedded there. So it’s redundant.
It’s offering two buttons to get to the same place. Again, it’s too many choices. But you’re also giving your reader a whole bunch of ways to lose you money.
Giving them one choice, one way to get straight to the content and then decide, do I want to watch a video? Do I want to print? Do I want to read more? Do I want to see what the next post is? Let them– give them the option, and then let them take it from there.
JENNY GUY: OK. We had a couple more questions. So just to be clear, you’re not– jump to print and jump to video, we’re not saying jump to recipe. Right?
You’ve got Michelle’s question here was saying, wait, I thought jump to recipe was good. Because it kept people on the site who would otherwise bounce. Is this no longer– we’re not talking about jump to recipes.
HEATHER TULLOS: I’m not talking about jump to recipe. I’m talking specifically about jump to print and jump to video. But if you are using jump to recipe, Arrival Unit all the way.
JENNY GUY: Yes. OK. Ricky says, we use table of contents on most posts. Would it be worth placing the ads ourselves next to each H2 that the TOC jumps to?
HEATHER TULLOS: Nope. Placing ads yourself is never going to be as good as letting the script wrapper figure it out for you. You just want to make sure, that depending on the plugin that you’re using, and depending on how you have your content ordered.
What is the search term that is getting most people to that post? And if you click on that in the table of contents, do you get to a place that has ads? Do you get to a place with no ads? And then maybe rethink the layout if you can.
If you’re landing in a place where you’re not monetizing, or if they’re landing in a place, and there’s no ads there, like that’s OK. But did they stop scrolling there, or do they keep going? Those are the kinds of things that you can figure out. And we’ll talk a little bit more in a further slide about where you can figure that out.
JENNY GUY: Perfect. Do you need– do you want me to slide, Heather? Or do you want site speed settings?
HEATHER TULLOS: You can slide, because I think site speed settings, everybody knows site speed settings. Turn them on. We’re going to talk about them in another second, but yeah.
Site speed settings are super important for viability. Because what they do is they prevent ads from loading until the reader takes an action on the page. Right? So even the adhesion unit doesn’t pop up until the reader decides to scroll, which means it’s got really great viewability. So now you can scoot.
Site speed settings, enable your CLS settings. I know that there is probably still a warning on the one for sidebar ads. If you’re running Trellis, you don’t need that one. But everybody else, you’re probably not going to run into too many conflicts.
It was more an issue in the beginning when we rolled that out than it is now. And our support engineers are really good at helping with it. Morticia’s hair is really intense, you guys.
JENNY GUY: Morticia!
Looking hot, little bit extra.
HEATHER TULLOS: So 36.6% of Mediavine publishers are passing Core Web Vitals, which I think is amazing. High five Mediavine publishers. 80% of Trellis users are passing Core Web Vitals.
I would say that anybody running Mediavine ads that is passing CWV, they probably have those CLS settings enabled. This is compared to just 4% of the web that is passing. So you can see. We’re kind of doing a really good job.
Don’t ignore those settings. They’re on the site’s feed page. All of them are recommended. Just toggle the little buttons.
JENNY GUY: Friends, you might have noticed that just a second ago the little ticker went across the screen asking you what your favorite Halloween candy was. Deanna Hill was on it and said, Reese cups. Also, we love that answer. She wins our first prize.
Deanna, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are going to get you a Halloween prize pack. And guys, that’s it. Keep those eyes peeled for those tickers on the bottom of the screen.
We’re going to pick the first person that makes the comment and answers the question. This time, it was Deanna Hill. We are so excited. All right. Heather, are you ready for the next slide?
HEATHER TULLOS: I am. Let’s move it.
JENNY GUY: All right.
HEATHER TULLOS: Universal Player, you’ve probably seen an email or 12 about the Universal Player. And the reason–
The reason we keep talking about it and we keep emailing you about it is because if there was ever a pretty good little money button for your website, this one is it. The Universal Player, turning it on, it is about 10 pixels smaller than the standard video player. But the real benefit is making sure that you’ve got the placement right. Because when you get it set up right, it generates a lot of impressions.
So to compare, most of the time when you’re running your mobile autoplay video, so if you have a video embedded in your post, and you autoplay on mobile, and you have the little sticky player, I mean, those are post-specific videos. But most of his time, your reader is not actually coming to your site to watch a video. Right?
We run those videos, because they’re useful, but mostly because they make us money. Right? So the Universal Player will just make you money. And you don’t have to put a lot of effort into it.
But you do want to make sure that you set it up right. So I’m going to recommend that you toggle on the Universal Player on desktop, toggle it on on mobile. And then the next setting right below that is going to be for your autoplay mobile video. Try turning that off. And just trust me for a week, and see how it goes.
Then you also want to make sure that you either have your featured video set to– you can set it to your up next playlist. Because now, this setting that you choose here is only going to apply to your desktop traffic. And the Universal Player will work as backfill there. Or you can set it to none.
Again, the featured video is mostly– it’s like a little vanity playlist. We were all running it for so long. But mostly it was just so we could make some money with the video content that we poured our hearts and souls into making.
Video production is pretty intense. So now, you might be wondered about, well, what about all the videos that I was making? What happens to those? They do not get left by the wayside.
Google still really loves videos, and your reader probably still really loves videos. But instead of auto-playing them, you’re going to let the reader that wants to watch the video click to play it. You still have all the options to convert to YouTube at the end of that video when they want to. But I think this gives you a little more freedom with your video.
You have to be less concerned with making it short, so that you can try to get more impressions in there. Because that little small player– I think I was going to tell you, and then I sidetracked myself. It generates less than one impression per session most of the time, which means that most readers see most of the ad but not all of the ad, which means that they probably don’t really watch your video. They exit out of it.
The Universal Player, on a lot of sites, it creeps past two impressions per session and sometimes closer to 3.8 or four, which means that they’re not exiting out of that. It’s paying you really well. And then if they want to click to play your video, you’re still getting a really high paying CPM there. Plus they’re actually watching the video.
They pushed the button, because they wanted to see what else you had to say and how you could help them. Also, please don’t worry if you’re frantically trying to scribble all of these instructions down as I narrate them or trying to pull them from this presentation. It will be provided with lots of handy links and help articles at the end.
JENNY GUY: Yes. We’re not about stress. We’re about candy.
HEATHER TULLOS: No stress.
JENNY GUY: And coats out of puppies. That’s it. That’s all we’re about. OK.
So Heather, can you give us an idea– I know that it totally varies site to site. But basically, Universal Player is universally good for all Mediavine publishers. Just do it. There’s no reason not to. OK.
HEATHER TULLOS: I would agree with that. If you have a lot of international traffic, watch it carefully. Because the kind of ads that are available to fill can vary depending on where you are. So if you’re in a place where there’s not a ton of Universal Player impressions to serve, you may possibly do better with the regular pre-roll video ad. But that’s really the only caveat that I want to throw out there.
And then what is a lot of international traffic? Because I’ve definitely helped publishers with less than 50% US traffic run the Universal Player. And it was also a nice little money button for them.
JENNY GUY: I mean, the comments about the Universal Player are rolling in. Deanna, our first winner said, it’s 24% of my income on one site and 29 on the other. Like you can’t argue. Like, come on.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: It made a big difference. It’s been a game changer, all of them. Just do it.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah, and let me also say, don’t freak out. If you see the video impressions go down, they should. Right? So your video revenue will go down, because the Universal Player revenue will go up. So you’ve got to give it a minute.
JENNY GUY: And breathe. Breathe through it. So is there any caveat in not turning it on in Q4? Should we wait, or is it just go now, go do it?
HEATHER TULLOS: Don’t wait.
JENNY GUY: OK.
HEATHER TULLOS: Do it today.
JENNY GUY: Fantastic.
HEATHER TULLOS: And if you don’t, we’ll probably email you.
JENNY GUY: Get those dollar bills. Come on, y’all. Do it.
HEATHER TULLOS: We want to help you make money.
JENNY GUY: All right. Oh. Look at those little M&M’s.
HEATHER TULLOS: I know. I was obsessed with this slide, and I messaged you at very late o’clock last night to tell you about it.
JENNY GUY: I am ne– it’s never a bad time to message me and tell me how– they’re genius. I love them. Look at the little witch’s hat on the one M&M. Come on.
HEATHER TULLOS: I know. Look at the little mummy in the corner. He’s so–
JENNY GUY: So cute!
HEATHER TULLOS: OK. Do a plugin audit. I promise this is quick and painless, and it’s not hard. And I think a lot of us panic about like, oh my God. How do I audit my plugins?
So there’s a really good blog post that our support engineers painstakingly put together that just tells you how to quickly run through your plugins. So first of all, anything that’s deactivated, you can probably trash. If it’s not active, you’re not using it, and you probably don’t need it.
Anything that is out of date, or that you can’t update, or that hasn’t had an update in several years, I would be concerned about using that plug-in. So if the last update was in 2018, you should probably find an alternative. But anyway, the blog post that support engineers put together, it’s really easy to just follow the steps one, two, three, four. And just make sure you’re not running any junk.
Do you have anything that is doing double duty? Do you have two plugins that are doing the same thing? Do you have to caching plugins?
That’s stuff that we see a lot. And you can’t like– there are some things, sort of like lazy loading, where if you do too much of it, it works against you. So if you have several plugins that are trying to do the same job, sometimes, you end up doing yourself more harm than good.
JENNY GUY: And if you’re like me, there are things every season where I’m like, when did I buy this?
HEATHER TULLOS: Yes.
JENNY GUY: I think it’s the same thing with plugins. Like, what is this?
HEATHER TULLOS: Yes. And also, while we’re on the topic of plugins, can I just issue a public service announcement about plugins? Please don’t just click Update All and then hope it’s going to be fine.
If you have a bunch of plugins that need to be updated, because a lot of times they’ll all issue releases kind of close together. So you’ll log in, and you’ll have seven things that need to be updated. Please just take the five minutes to do them one at a time. So that you know where things went wrong if one of them updates and it goes south.
I know I’ve had that happen with Yoast a time or two. I went to update the premium version, and it got mad at me, because I didn’t update the regular version first. Then I updated the regular version, and something else got mad at me. And I wouldn’t have known what was causing the problem if I hadn’t just pushed the buttons one at a time.
JENNY GUY: Love that. And it’s a lot like you sometimes just want the thing to check off your to do list. But make– separate this one out. Separate this one out. OK.
Our second winner is Chrysa Duran. Her movie that keeps her up at night, the spooky movie, is Scream. And I want to ask Heather this question too. What is a spooky, scary Halloween movie that you know is going to make it hard for you to sleep and/or maybe have to leave that closet light on?
HEATHER TULLOS: I think we answered this question in a meeting a couple of weeks ago. And for me, it is It. So I never saw the new version, Stephen King’s It. But the original that was aired on television, I watched it when I was in the fourth grade. And now, I have dated myself, but that’s OK.
JENNY GUY: Morticia is eternal. OK?
HEATHER TULLOS: Morticia is eternal. Anyway, I was terrified of the bathroom for literal months. But I still think I don’t like creepy clowns with giant sharp teeth that send balloons out of the sewer. Steer clear.
JENNY GUY: No, I will say that I went through about a year period where we were watching– me and my best friend decided we were going to watch all the scary movies that we’d never been allowed to watch. We were 12 or 13. And It, that moment when the picture winks, like I peed.
I swear to you I did. When the little kid was like, I’m like, [SCREAM]. I mean, I swear. I crawled out of that.
It was so unexpected. And Tim Curry is just a master as Pennywise. Come on.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yes. It was creepy, and I think it never left me. And it was one of those movies that made you want to go into the bathroom with a broom and poke at the shower curtain. You know? Yeah.
JENNY GUY: Yes! I–
So the last one that we saved was– mine is The Exorcist. And the last one that we saved, we begged our parents. My mom was straight up like, that scarred me when I saw it in the theater, and I don’t want you to watch it. But if you want to watch it, go ahead.
We made it about 45 minutes in. And both of us were about to cry. And we’re like, we’re turning it off. And I’ve never gone back, and I’m OK with it.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah. I’m also OK with it. OK. So increase your recipe card frequency, this is another one of those things where especially if you’re using a way for your readers to jump, you want to make sure that they’re jumping to something that’s actually going to make you money.
Otherwise, why are you spending all your time creating this content? So your recipe card frequency, you don’t want to go wild. But the good news is that our default settings, just like our in content settings, are never going to let you go super wild.
My best recommendation is to make sure that you have an ad on either side of the ingredients. And then we also have options in the dashboard for you to adjust your actual frequency in your instructions. And so if you have a beverage recipe, where you only have a few little short lines of how to make a drink, you’re probably going to only have one ad after the instructions there, because our script dropper is super smart, and it figures things out.
But if you have a tutorial for a really intense bread recipe, or if you’re using your how-to or DIY card, where you’ve got really long, detailed instructions for how to build a workbench, or paint something, or craft something. Obviously, those are not things that I do very often. But–
How to do your make up like Cruella de Vil, that would be a really amazing tutorial. And I feel like you should write about it.
JENNY GUY: Hey. I was– there were some masterful ones already out there that I was copying from.
HEATHER TULLOS: But if your instructions get a little long, you want to make sure that there are ads in your instructions.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, get monetized for that. So Kippi Kim Gale O’Hern said, let’s talk WP recipe card for crafts. Is that OK? What does Google think of cards for crafts, recipe cards for crafts?
HEATHER TULLOS: I think the general advice is don’t lie to Google. And if you mark up your crafts as a recipe, then you’re putting recipes scheme out there for something that is not food. So it’ll probably work against you.
I get the want to do that, because it formats things really pretty. But most recipe cards also have a DIY option, like a how to option. And so make sure that you’re using– make sure you’re outputting the right schema if you’re going to use a card that’s going to format things really pretty for you. That’s really important.
JENNY GUY: And speaking of that schema, Kippi was also asking, WP recipe card versus Mediavine create card, which–
HEATHER TULLOS: I mean, are we really asking me this? My answer is Create.
Honestly, I’ve used Create since before, I think, we really talked about Create. I was– my website was with Mediavine before I worked here, because I really just like everything that we do. So as soon as Create was available for us to test it on our own sites, I installed it. I started importing my recipes. I put together some DIY posts, so that I could talk to people in an educated manner, when we go to conferences that are not food related.
And so yeah, I think Create is going to do it faster. The user interface is better, and there are also some really cool Create options that are coming soon. So I don’t want to give away any fun surprises. But I will say that Create gets cooler all the time.
So I would choose Create. But yeah, definitely toggle, if you’re going to do DIY. Regardless of the card that you’re using and which option you’re more comfortable with, make sure that you’re putting out the right schema for that card. And then for our– go ahead, Jenny. Sorry.
JENNY GUY: Well, I was just going to say, how-to schema didn’t exist until Create gave an option for it. So this is– it’s specifically designed for other than food. Because we knew that the problem we were solving was that how-to and craft bloggers were putting non-food recipes into recipe cards. And that’s why Create, it’s way more than just food.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yes. It is way more than just food. And I think we navigated all of those little how-to, and list, and all of the cool options for schema to be put out into the world. I think we did those first, and we did them really well.
And then for those of you that are not running, where you would not need any kind of instructional content, where you don’t have a recipe card. You don’t have a how-to card. That’s not your jam. Maybe you have a travel site, or you write about science, or kids, or a whole ton of other things. There are fun little things that you can try a couple of times a year.
And one of them is in-image ad. So if you’re just looking for a settings button that you can push and increase your earnings in Q4, we work with GumGum. They’re a partner that bids in a lot of ad spaces on our websites. But one of the things that they’ve done since we’ve partnered with them is in-image ads.
If you have images on your website, it’s a really easy way to just turn that on. And the spend is really good in Q4. They have really good campaigns, and we can also tailor it for you. So if you want to– well, we can’t, but GumGum can.
So if you want to skip the first image, or you don’t want it on every image, that’s a request that we can put in for you. And GumGum will make that happen. So if you just want to dip your toes into the in-image ads waters and see how it goes, but they have really good campaigns.
They have really good CPMs. And it can add a meaningful amount to your RPM if you turn it on at the right time of year. You can always gauge whether or not it’s worth it to be running those.
If you look– not in the ad unit breakdown. I can’t think of what it’s called. I think it’s the Mediavine ad partner breakdown on the Dashboard. But it will say, Mediavine ads, GumGum in-image ads. It’s really easy to see how much GumGum is adding to your overall RPM.
JENNY GUY: Love it, always trying to find that balance between monetization and user experience.
* Editorial note: Since the airing of this episode, “Grow.me” has been rebranded to “Grow.” *
HEATHER TULLOS: Yes. Next slide, opt into Grow. You’ll notice that we’re not calling it Grow.me on this slide, but–
You’ll know it in your Dashboard as Grow.me. So we have a couple of Grow options. We have Grow Social Pro and then we have Grow.me.
Grow is the overarching theme here. We want you to grow your subscribers. We want you to grow your readership. We want you to grow your traffic.
We also want you to grow your access to your readers’ first-party data. Because at some point, somebody is going to enforce some very serious privacy laws. And we don’t know what those are going to look like. So just because Google pushed that timeline out doesn’t mean we get to cover our faces and pretend it’s not going to happen.
You have readers now. You have users now. You have people that subscribe to your lists, and your site, and your social channels. And they’re coming to you for all kinds of things now. And if you opt in to grow in your Dashboard now, you can make more money now. You don’t have to wait.
If you have a lot of iOS traffic, it’s already a good option for you to monetize that traffic where we’re not using third-party cookies. Because they’re just not hanging out over there. It can make a meaningful difference. But also, Grow is just a really cool engagement tool that will help you grow your traffic.
JENNY GUY: And if you’re looking– I can say this from experience on the Mediavine website. If you’re looking for just a way to just see if Grow is working, just try it. Just try one feature.
Turn on spotlight subscribe for your email. Just do it. I cannot emphasize this enough what a difference it is made on the Mediavine website. It is an incredibly brilliant way to get subscribers without an annoying pop up.
So please just turn it on, give it a shot. See what happens. You’ve got nothing to lose. What do you have to lose? It’s easy.
HEATHER TULLOS: It is easy. And we add new features all the time. So I think sometimes there was some confusion about what Grow actually is. And we have blog posts about it.
But if we just break it down really simple, it’s an engagement suite. Right? So not every single tool that is available in Grow is going to be the best fit for every single site. But the whole point of it is for there to be a whole bunch of options for you to choose from. Because one or two of them is probably going to work for you.
It’s probably going to work for your readers. And keep an eye on things, because we’re always adding new things. And in another month, there might be another feature that you want to turn on. And the idea is that we just keep building on those opportunities to collect first-party data from your reader. Keep them engaged.
JENNY GUY: And the other idea is that we’re developing this product together as we go. And we need you guys to tell us what is working for your readers. Tell us what– and then in addition, tell us what features you think might work.
What would entice them to log in? What would entice them to do all those things? That’s what we’re looking for. We need that. So that when Google finally does pull the plug, we’ll already be sitting pretty with a lot of first-party data.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: So that’s what we’re going for.
HEATHER TULLOS: And I will say that, when you have feedback, when you guys have a good idea, or you want to make sure that you want to let us know how you’re using something, or you think it might be a little better if you adjusted it in some way, make sure you email us that feedback. I see a lot of it try to land in the Facebook group. If I moderated you away, I apologize. It was definitely me, but–
It’s because I want it to– if it’s in the Facebook group, it’s not in a place where we can do anything with it. So I want to make sure that all of those good ideas get into support’s hands, so that they can hand it off to our product team. So that we can make sure that your good ideas get filtered up to engineers, and we can put some of them into action for you.
JENNY GUY: We have got– we actually asked what the favorite Halloween costume was of years past. And we’ve been getting a lot of incredible suggestions. We’ve got one, but Andrea Jansen was quick on the draw with Dracula.
So she’s our next winner. Andrea, email email@example.com, and we will get your prize pack. But I’m going to read some of these costumes out, because they’re just so cool.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: We’ve got zombies, scarecrow. Somebody was a Rubik’s cube, which I really want to see. That sounds amazing. We’ve got ET. We’ve got Slimer from Ghostbusters, Annie, witches.
HEATHER TULLOS: These are so good.
JENNY GUY: I know. Listen to this one. In college, Linda Smith said, in college, friends and I went as the night sky, dark clothes, tons of tiny gold star stickers. I love that.
HEATHER TULLOS: That’s so creative.
JENNY GUY: Yes.
HEATHER TULLOS: One time my mom dressed me up as a bag of jelly beans. And she–
JENNY GUY: That’s so adorable.
HEATHER TULLOS: She blew up a bunch of multicolored balloons, and put them in a clear plastic bag, and just cut out holes for my arms and legs, and tied it with a bow around my neck.
JENNY GUY: That’s adorable.
HEATHER TULLOS: I thought it was really cool.
JENNY GUY: It’s a really cool costume. I think– so my favorite I think was the year– it was in college, and I dressed up as the bride from Kill Bill. So I had the yellow tracksuit with the– and I put the black, and I had the samurai sword. Yes, that was cool.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yes.
JENNY GUY: That was fun. It was a lot of fun.
HEATHER TULLOS: I love it.
JENNY GUY: OK. All right. We have some people that are requesting– are making comments that Zapier is too expensive. They need web hooks for Grow. That’s definitely some feedback that we can take in, and we appreciate you sharing that with us.
HEATHER TULLOS: I like this feedback. I like it a lot.
JENNY GUY: Yes. And also, please do keep your eyes peeled on the Mediavine space. Those of you who are already fans of Spotlight Subscribe, and those of you who might be waiting to use it, there are some pretty cool things coming.
And I think it’s pretty darn soon. So just sit tight for a minute, and we have some great developments from our incredible product team. So standby.
HEATHER TULLOS: Oh. This is my favorite slide.
I know you guys are tired of seeing this, or hearing it, or you want to roll your eyes at me. But I’ll tell you it’s a fruitless effort. It’s never going to make you feel better, and it’s never really going to let know how well you are performing.
Because even if Jenny and I have sites running the same theme, and we write similar content, people are going to navigate our content differently. So let’s say, we’re running the same thing, the same theme. And we both write about baked goods, and we have the exact same settings. Jenny and I still have different readers. And they’re going to use my site differently than they’re going to use Jenny site.
And we’re all going after the sa– different keywords. And even if we were going after the same keywords, the way that I dispense information is going to be different than the way Jenny does. And that goes for all of you.
So RPM is just a math equation. It happens after your traffic has already come and gone. It happens after the advertisers have already spent what they’re going to spend. So yes, RPM is an important metric. But my RPM compared to Jenny’s RPM is a useless metric.
It’s not– Jenny’s RPM is not going to help me. Because what you really want to know– if we’re talking about increasing RPM, we’re talking about increasing revenue. So what you want to know is how to make more.
You want to make– you want to figure out how to make more money with your own content. You can’t make more money with Jenny’s content, or I can’t. Jenny can, but–
So you want to compare your year over year progress. But you also want to use– we have a lot of really good help articles about how to use your page level data to get you to the right place, to help you understand how to make more money. Circling back to that viewability slide way at the beginning, high visibility means high CPMs. And if you have high CPMs, you can make more money by running fewer ads.
So you can’t learn about your own viewability by worrying about Jenny RPM– or I can’t. I say, you, me. Me, I can’t learn about–
I can’t learn how to improve my viewability and make advertisers spend more on my content by looking at Jenny’s site. I can only use the data in my Dashboard to figure out, well, how are my readers using my content? And how can I make that better? And how can I make more than I did last year? And what changes should I be making to my own site and my own content that are going to help me to balance money and user experience and get myself to the revenue goals that I have set?
Sorry. I got distracted. I was reading about–
JENNY GUY: No, that’s OK. I’ll put that up. Yes.
So we got– as the editor of two sites, one has a way higher RPM. But the one with the lower RPM is still up 52% year to date versus last year. That’s huge.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah, that is huge. And then also, location makes a difference. Right? But also the kind of recipes that you’re running and the kind of content, the kind of travel content that you’re putting out there.
Maybe you write a post where people are only searching when they’re like, where do I eat in this random city in Slovenia? Well, that’s a useful piece of information. Right? But the RPM for that post is probably going to be low.
So you have to figure out how to balance it. You can’t just look at the overall number. You have to say, well, I’m really good at telling people where to eat in this particular little city, but this post isn’t monetizing well. So how can I pivot, and use the content that I already have, and build on it? And you can’t figure that out by looking at other people’s site or worrying about whatever their numbers are today.
JENNY GUY: Can I pop a can of worms real quick?
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: How does that– how does not comparing RPMs, when a lot of times I see when people are thinking about different companies– guys, we’re going to– spoiler. There are competitors. There are people who offer similar services that to what we do.
HEATHER TULLOS: Are there?
JENNY GUY: I mean–
We have to say that. I think we’re incomparable, and I think some other people do too. And we prove that every day, but what is– how does not comparing RPMs factor into that?
Because a lot of times, I’ll see my RPM on October 15 was this. And somebody else will say, well, I’m at company X, and my RPM was this. In a vacuum, how does all that– I mean, does that even make sense?
HEATHER TULLOS: Well, no, it doesn’t make sense. Because if you are running ads with– if we say, my company and Jenny’s company, we don’t have the same technology. We don’t have the same approach to advertising. But again, we also still don’t have the same websites. Right?
And so trying to compare different sorts of technology, it’s not going to get you the right answer. I think, it also doesn’t let you ask the right questions, which is like we’re talking about RPM. But what we really want is to make more money with the content that we have.
So if you’re only taking the top level number, and you’re only looking at RPM, you’re not looking at how much advertisers are actually spending on your content. You’re not looking at how many ads you’re actually serving to get there. You’re not looking at whether or not you’re passing Core Web Vitals, so that you can continue to grow your business. You’re not looking at you long term goals for the content that you’re going to create.
I just– there’s too many factors to consider for things to hinge on one number. It’s an important number. I wouldn’t count it out. It is a really good metric for you to say, well, how much am I making relative to my traffic? But it also does not factor in, how much am I making relative to my traffic, when everybody that came to my site yesterday was in France?
Yeah. So and then also, it’s important. So October 15 year over year, remember year over year, you’re going to shift a day. So instead of just comparing year over year, I like to make sure that I’m comparing the same day last year.
So if October 15 is a Tuesday this year, it’s probably on Monday last year or a Sunday. Right? So if you’re comparing a Tuesday to a Sunday, Sunday is always going to be higher. So I mean, Sunday is a really good day for most websites. And then Monday is always a bummer, when things crash down. Right?
So you don’t want to compare Monday to Sunday, because it’s not an accurate representation. Advertisers spend more on the weekend, when people are more engaged with the content and the internet. Things change on Monday. We all go to work. We’re worried about coffee and emails, and we’re not as worried about how to build a raised bed garden in the backyard.
JENNY GUY: I mean, I worry about that every day. It’s just a continuous cycle of fear and worry for me. I’m trapped in a worrying cycle of a raised bed garden.
The last thing I wanted to ask about this was this also factors into seasonality. So for instance, if company X told me, you’re going to make 21% more when you come here. But you’re going to come in Q4. Isn’t everyone going to make 20% more in a month?
HEATHER TULLOS: If you don’t make 20% more in the next– before the end of November, please email support. Because something is terribly wrong. First of all, a 20% increase is actually not that much when you’re just looking at incremental RPM.
If you look at the month of October so far, so if you change the date range in your Dashboard, and you say, like October 1 to the 25th, yesterday, you’ve probably already seen a 20% increase this month. And then things may dip a little the first week of November but probably not that much. Because November, November is typically one of the highest months of the year and December.
And so your RPM is going to go up. It’s just going to. Just it’s going to go down the first week of January. It’s super predictable.
Our VP of Ad Operations put together a really cool blog post. And our marketing team put together a really amazing visual aid. They share it in little bits and pieces every month, so that you can know what days are the best.
And I’ve seen people in the Facebook group talk about how they plan their marketing around that calendar. And they decide when they’re going to promote things, which I think is amazing. But it’s also really good to just be like, oh, yeah, yesterday was a gold-y yellow day. It wasn’t a teal day. Let me not freak out.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, it doesn’t mean that it’s broken. It doesn’t mean that something shocking has happened. It just means that the ads are seasonal.
HEATHER TULLOS: Right, like day after a holiday. Expect it to go down a little, unless that holiday is Thanksgiving, in which case it probably went up.
JENNY GUY: OK, our last raffle winner was Laura Samson. It’s not raffle. We asked them what the spookiest place you’ve ever visited is, and she said, Notre-Dame, which is a– I would love to go to there. Spookiest place you’ve ever visited, Morticia, other than your own home?
HEATHER TULLOS: I mean, my home is pretty spooky.
JENNY GUY: That’s true.
HEATHER TULLOS: The caged creatures have been quiet the whole time though, so we’re doing OK.
JENNY GUY: So good.
HEATHER TULLOS: Fingers crossed.
I don’t know that I’ve really visited too many spooky places. I did like a haunted walking tour in Edinburgh, Scotland, and that was really cool.
JENNY GUY: Oh, nice.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah. It was a ghost tour with cemeteries and lots of spooky things. Also, lots of terrible things happened there. So it’s kind of creepy.
JENNY GUY: I think places def– I remember being at the Tower in London and feeling just kind of a weight.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: This feels–
Oh, well, look, that’s where Anne Boleyn– oh, OK. Well, this is awkward. And it just makes you feel– yeah.
I did a– I was in a hearse ghost tour in Savannah. And that was a little bit– it was fun. It was good. I like haunted things though.
HEATHER TULLOS: I’m going to put that on my list of things I need to do.
JENNY GUY: It’s fun.
HEATHER TULLOS: And I’m going to wear this outfit.
JENNY GUY: I think it would be wrong if you didn’t, honestly.
HEATHER TULLOS: I agree.
JENNY GUY: Wrong and illegal.
HEATHER TULLOS: Oh, this slide appeared.
JENNY GUY: It did.
HEATHER TULLOS: Rosie is amazing. It appeared since we talked earlier. Another shout out to Rosie, who I don’t know how we lived our lives without. OK.
So check your in-content settings. So I put together a whole new help article that’s going to be linked in this presentation. But it’s about how to count your ads. I think this is confusing for people.
They think that if they’re scrolling through their blog post, and they’re counting ads, one, two, three, four, five as they see them, they think– well, again, we talked about readers don’t use your site the same way that you use your site. But when you count your ads like that, you’re actually not counting ads. You’re counting ad slots.
At Mediavine, we don’t fill at 100%, and we also tailor the experience to every single user. So again, the way that I read is going to be different than the way that Jenny reads. If I want to read everything you wrote, and if Jenny wants to click the highlights in your table of contents, and just skip around, and get what she needs. So she can get out of here, because she’s the busy lady.
JENNY GUY: Puppies, puppies to find and kill.
HEATHER TULLOS: Right.
JENNY GUY: I’m busy.
HEATHER TULLOS: So many puppies. The amount of ads that Jenny is served is going to be really different than the amount of ads that I’m served. And that’s OK, because we’re consuming the content differently.
So it’s important to know where to look in your Dashboard to figure out how many ads you are serving. Again, that ad unit breakdown is really your friend. Pro tip, if you take the total number of impressions and divide by the total number of page views, you get the average number of impressions that you’re running per page. And those impressions include everything. Right?
So it’s not just the in-content ads that you are looking at right this minute. But it’s your sidebar ads, and it’s the adhesion unit that refreshes. And it’s the recipe cart ads. It’s the Universal Player that you forgot about, because it’s so small and unobtrusive, hanging out in the bottom corner there.
JENNY GUY: Can I just say, who says that about video ads? That’s just magic to me. My unobtrusive video ads before now? Come on, that’s just magical. Way to go.
HEATHER TULLOS: That don’t ruin my user experience and also don’t make my sites slow? They’re pretty terrific.
JENNY GUY: And make me a beaucoup bucks? Come on. Awesome.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah. So make sure that you’re just looking at those overall impressions. And then also, you can look at your page level breakdown. It will tell you the number of impressions that you are serving per page view. That’s a really good place to survey the situation and see how many impressions you’re running and where.
I know that, on my own site, for the posts where I’m running the most impressions, those are also the posts that tend to be the most detailed tutorials. So it doesn’t mean that I have 25 or 30 ad slots. It means that somebody was hanging out there long enough, for probably two or three of those units to refresh several times. Right? Or they needed to scroll back up and read my detailed instructions somewhere, or maybe they watched the video–
JENNY GUY: Tell me more about those biscuits.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah. I know.
JENNY GUY: Scroll up, scroll up, scroll up, scroll up.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yeah. Or if you give somebody a directive in your instructions at the end of the post, we say, always save the good stuff for the end of the post. And that is still accurate. You always– you don’t want to give away the goods in the first paragraph, or you probably didn’t serve any ads.
Yeah. So make sure that you’re not looking at that top level number and being like, oh well, that seems like too many. Go to the post. Look at it on your phone.
Hit the jump button. Hit the table of contents, scroll around. See if you can experience it like a user not like your content creator self.
JENNY GUY: And I got a sneak peek at the counting your ads help article, and it is so helpful. I learned so much just reading it. It’s such a good, comprehensive way to understand how that works. Because it’s hard to get the difference between–
HEATHER TULLOS: It is.
JENNY GUY: I mean, especially if you have a–
HEATHER TULLOS: Plots– and yeah.
JENNY GUY: And one reader coming at you saying, there are zillions of ads on your post. I mean, it doesn’t happen often, but–
HEATHER TULLOS: By the way, that reader is probably just mad about your pop up that you forgot about. Yeah.
JENNY GUY: Fair. OK. Guys, you will see here on the presentation that we have come to the final slide, which is our resource slide. And then we’re going to start– let’s start sharing those links. It is super exciting.
Everything is there that you need to make sure that you are getting all of these treats, no tricks, for Q4 this year. I want to go ahead and say one more time, congratulations to our readers, Deanna Hill, [? Chrissa ?] Duran– I’m scrolling through– Andrea Jansen, and Laura Sampson. So please make sure all four of you email into firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can get you your prizes.
Heather, last question for you. I’m going to make a quick announcement, and then we’ll come back to that. But what are– give us a couple of action items that you want people to go do right now or this week to make sure that they’re capitalizing. OK? All right.
HEATHER TULLOS: So are you going to make an announcement? You want me to–
JENNY GUY: I’m going to make my announcement real quick. It’s a little bit of a big deal. So guys, for our next Teal Talk, it’s going to be a little bit of a wait. It’s actually Tuesday, November 16 at 1:00 PM Eastern.
The reason for the wait is that we have a guest. Paul Bakaus, the Head of Creator Relations at Google, is going to be here. And he’s going to talk about Google for content creators. It’s going to be pretty exciting.
We’re very, very, very, very ready for it. So mark your calendars. Do it now. You will have the Head of Creator Relations at Google on alive talking to you. So we’re thrilled.
Heather, this has been so much fun. Morticia, it’s always a pleasure. Please give me your action items.
HEATHER TULLOS: OK, action items. I think that the very first thing I would tell you to do is, if you are not running the Universal Player, please use the help article that we linked in the presentation, and here, and the live. And make sure you get your settings right.
If you’re not sure or you need help monitoring, we will help you, but it’s pretty simple to set up. The help article has pictures and everything. I know I like to read the instruction and do the action. That’s how I roll. So I hope it’s helpful for you.
The second thing that I would say is make sure that you go forth and use your website like a reader, not like a blogger. Right? So go to your top posts that are trending this time of year. Go to your top posts that we’re trending in November last year. Look at them on your phone or use DevTools on mobile.
Use an incognito window, so you can spot things that are cached for you, like email options that you forgot about. And then just push the buttons. Make sure the links work. Make sure that the experience is what you want it to be. And if you need help adjusting your settings, then email us, because we want you to make a lot of money.
JENNY GUY: It’s the time of the year when everybody’s on your site. So make sure they’re having the best experience that they can.
HEATHER TULLOS: Yes. 100%.
JENNY GUY: It has been wonderful. Guys, we have linked the presentation everywhere. So you can grab it. Heather is going to send the presentation out to Mediavine publishers, which is exciting.
We are also going to be sharing some of these wonderful tips on different social media. So follow us around. Congratulations to our winners, and come back on Tuesday, November 16 1:00 PM for the Head of Creator Relations Paul Bakaus from Google. Everybody else, happy Halloween.
HEATHER TULLOS: Happy Halloween.
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