State of the Vine: Mediavine Updates (Yes, Trellis is Coming)

woman looking at a website with a trellis template at a cafe
There’s been a lot happening behind the scenes at Mediavine that we are so excited to share with all of you.
 
Mediavine’s Director of Marketing Jenny Guy sat down with CEO Eric Hochberger at the end of June to get the lowdown on recent changes, product updates and yes, that highly anticipated WordPress framework that starts with a “T” — Trellis!

Mediavine Updates (Yes, Trellis is Coming)

JENNY GUY: Hello, welcome, howdy, how do. It is Monday, June 29. It is not our normal day to be together, but if 2020 has taught us anything so far, it is that concepts like normal and time no longer exist. So let’s just roll with it and go on. The reason we are together on an unusual day is sitting right there with me. It’s Eric. Hi, Eric.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Hello.

JENNY GUY: I checked the calendar and we have not done one of these in over two months, and I’m not sure how that happened. But also, again, time doesn’t really exist anymore. So I’m not happy that it’s been two months. But we are going to remedy that today and I’m glad. We have been super-busy behind the scenes at the Mediavine team. And a lot of things have happened, one of which everyone really cares about but we’re going to make them wait on that because we can — because that’s our power. So let’s start with some general announcements and some general knowledge industry-wide.

We started having these — you and I — our fireside chats as a response to COVID-19 and everything happening with industry, kind of the instability, the RPM drop, all that. At this point, we have done several of our lives. And we can share some of the links if people want to follow our journey. But despite all of our best wishes and hopes, Coronavirus is still here and we are now officially in a recession. So what I would like for you to give us is how things are going in the industry, in the digital advertising industry, how RPMs are looking. Give us a little update.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so I think — what was the number we shared? It was down 40% at the very beginning, or 50%, or something insane.

JENNY GUY: 43% I think, actually was the exact number.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so things are looking a little better. That’s the good news from then, as I’m sure many of our publishers have noticed, especially the ones that log into their dashboards daily. Things have kind of been improving, especially the last two weeks, I would say. We’re starting to see RPMs close to where they were last year. And that’s not necessarily because full advertiser spend has recovered yet. It definitely hasn’t. We’re in a recession. So we can expect it’s going to take a little bit for that to come back.

But as we’ve been mentioning on these lives, we’ve been putting just a ton of work into making little improvements that we could. And we’ll be talking about some more of those today, some of the things we’ve done in the last couple months. But you combine all the improvements we’ve made over the last two months, combined with a lot of the advertiser spend slowly starting to come back, and yeah, we’re seeing RPMs close to what they were this time last year, as crazy as that is.

JENNY GUY: Which is amazing. Yeah, we’re getting a lot of comments, people saying that their RPMs are finally starting to go up, that they’re seeing a recovery here, which is incredible. In Dashboard 2.0, which we have and we’re going to talk about some on Thursday, you can do a year over year comparison, correct Eric? You can actually look at your RPM.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: You can. And you can compare everything in the new dashboard — well, compared to another time period. So definitely have fun with that. But do remember that it’s really just been the last couple of weeks that things have been recovering. So if you go last month compared to the previous month, you will be a little depressed. But if you start focusing on now compared to the same time last year, things are looking pretty good.

JENNY GUY: The other thing to keep in mind, though, is that we are about to start a new month and it’s a holiday. So can you tell us about something to keep in mind if we’re getting really excited about RPMs now, don’t be crushed in just a couple of days.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, so what tends to happen at the end of every month in the build up to a holiday, including the 4th of July, you do see increased advertiser spend. And then once that holiday comes, or the beginning of a new month or the beginning of a new quarter, everything kind of resets, all those budgets. So anything you’re getting excited about now, yes, might drop in just, unfortunately, like a short few days from now. But again, you’re going to start building back up in July, August and then, of course September things start to generally look very good.

JENNY GUY: That is exciting. OK, Amy Katt says, RPMs improved. Leah says, it’s improving, RPMs are higher. Salads For Lunch says hers are higher than last year. Julia Jordan says she loves the new dashboard. Guys, if you have questions for Eric, please post them in here. But I will say, again, we’re going to wait to discuss the “T” word until towards the end of the broadcast, so we’ll save those. We are going to talk about Trellis so do not panic. Never fear. In the meantime, you mentioned it already, that our engineering team, which is huge and dedicated to Mediavine — I don’t know if we’re the only — our engineering team is probably the largest in the industry, correct? The largest dedicated —

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I would assume so, yeah, at this point. I don’t even know our count anymore. There’s so many, I don’t even know all their names anymore, which is crazy.

JENNY GUY: That’s true. We have a lot of engineers. The majority of them are working on our ad tech behind the scenes, some working on product. We have a ton of engineers. But what most people don’t know that we have, is a dedicated sales team that is working to get the most — every dollar out of each one of their ad impressions. So would you tell us a little bit about this department of unsung heroes and what their most recent accomplishments are that would be interesting to our publishers, which is part of what’s helping their RPMs start to recover.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, that’s a great point. We don’t talk enough about the sales team who is out there, obviously, pitching advertisers to work closer with advertisers. So obviously, a lot of what we do is what’s called the open marketplace, where people are just buying based on the fact they trust your domain or Mediavine. But some of these deals are curated because we have worked with partners. You can read about tons of advertisers out there that won’t buy on a site unless it’s been what’s called white-listed.

And that’s what our part — that’s what our sales team is out there doing, making sure that Mediavine sites are looked at for what they are, which is incredible quality traffic, even though we tend to be what’s called long tail in the industry, which is a terrible term for it. But, yeah, people don’t look highly upon smaller traffic domains. But that’s what Mediavine has been changing these past five years. The primary effort of our sales team has done an incredible job.

So one thing we’re excited about is that we’re now a Comscore Top 20 property. So that means we’re one of the 20th biggest sites on the entire internet. A lot of people ahead of us are names like Google and Facebook that we may not be able to tackle just yet. Maybe all of us together. And kind of those numbers have allowed us to really make a name for ourselves in the advertising industry. So I’ll just spoil it with some big news that our sales team has sold.

But we’ve now been listed as a premium partner. And most of these companies only lists like 10 or 20 people in these ranks with big name advertisers like Target, Walmart, Procter and Gamble. If you don’t know Procter and Gamble, they own everything. And they have some of the largest ad industry’s — largest ad budgets on the entire internet. And then Merkle — and Merkle you won’t necessarily know the name of but they power a lot of ad buys because they’re kind of a data-driven buying team. And we’re listed as a top partner now for all of these places. People go and just buy Mediavine inventory from names like, again, Target, Walmart, Procter and Gamble. It’s been incredible. And that’s based on the efforts of our sales team.

JENNY GUY: And the reason why we’re able to — beyond just the sales team — is that we have this quality inventory. But banded together, we have the strength of all of our sites together, which is a huge deal to them. As opposed to just having smaller publishers, it’s the strength of everyone combined.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Absolutely, Strength in numbers but strength in quality. I think that top 20, if you look at the actual breakdown of anyone else in that top 20, we’re the only one with a 70% female-skewing demographic because we’re so dedicated towards more kind of that lifestyle content as opposed to the rest of the top 20 that are just based — kind of spray and pray on the entire internet. They will take any kind of site on to be in their network. And because Mediavine has kind of stuck true to who we are, we tell a great story. We’re all of us combined into being one of the largest properties on the internet, one of the top 20 largest properties.

JENNY GUY: And then, talk to us a little bit about server-side, working with buyers, exchange. Give us some of the nuts and bolts. Give me some acronyms, Eric. That’s really what I’m asking for.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Jenny, I don’t know what’s come over you. You’re looking for acronyms uh-oh.

JENNY GUY: I love them now. It’s the pandemic.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: All right, well, we’re going to be talking about S2S now, server-to-server. So one of the things that we’ve been on a mission, over the last two years, is basically moving things from what’s called client-side header bidding to server-side. You don’t necessarily need to know what that means. But client-side slows down a website, server-side does not. That’s really all you need to know. And we’ve been moving all of our bidders slowly to server-side.

So at Mediavine we always limited how many partners we would work with because every partner you add slows down the ad auction. Now, when it’s all server-side, you can bring on as many partners as you want. So we’ve been onboarding a whole bunch of partners. And that’s part of what we’ve been talking about, the exciting part of BidShield allows us to take on new riskier partners. The server-side header bidding allows us to take on more partners.

All of these things have been combined to what’s leading to those increased RPMs. We’re able to finally do these things because of everything we started about two years ago. So the server-side stuff is crazy exciting. One things it actually lets us do is work direct with advertisers. You couldn’t previously put an advertiser in your auction because, again, you’re limited to the number of partners you could put in. Now there’s no more limit. We can work direct with buyers, with DSPs, with advertisers. It’s really exciting stuff. That cuts out a lot of middlemen, and a lot of fees, and means more money to our publishers.

JENNY GUY: We like more money. We like less middlemen. So all those are positive things. We’ve got a random question from Lance Cothern to do with BidShield, is there a BidShield report somewhere we can look at? Or is that not going yet?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So all the data is being collected. I don’t know in what form or how it’s going to be shared. But it will be shared, obviously. It’s a fully transparent pool that we’re collecting. And so as soon as we have that information, we’ll definitely share with the alliance. I’m not sure of the exact form it’s going to take yet.

JENNY GUY: Picture books — for anyone who doesn’t know what BidShield is, will you give us a little synopsis real quick?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, no, BidShield, very cool. I would definitely go to the blog post about it. My very short summary of it. But basically, we do risk assessment of every single bidder inside the auction based upon a number of factors that we can’t really share, or they could be gamed. But basically, we will do real time adjustments to bids as they come in. That will encourage the better actors to win more bids. And the bad actors were able to kind of shield some of that money, put it into a pool, and then redistribute to our publishers, assuming we get paid on it. So it’s almost no risk to our publishers. Less than 1% of their revenue is ever impacted by this. And it protects basically 100% of their revenue as a result.

JENNY GUY: And we talked about this a lot on a live a couple of months ago. So we’ll share that as well. We just shared the blog post. We’ll also share that live, so you can hear us say words about that a little bit more, OK. We have a question about Create, and Melissa Greeley, I want to make sure we got you taken care of. She’s in the middle of switching to Create from WPRM. She wanted to know if there’s a Jump to Recipe. We have that. We shared the blog post. Also she thought she heard that there was a social card we could attach to the recipe so we can have a CTA for them to tag us on Instagram.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yes, definitely, there’s also a social CTA that we covered on one of these lives. So we can share the blog post as well. Good luck. I know sometimes it’s not easy to transition recipe cards. But we promise you the better performance you’ll get out of Create’s Jump to Recipe, which definitely exists, will hopefully pay off for all of your time.

JENNY GUY: I love it. And we can talk about the way we solved Jump to Recipe all day long. But we’re not going to because we have a schedule. We’re on a tight schedule. Shashi though wants to know, what is the difference between buyers, advertisers and partners? Shashi, I need a whiteboard. This is not a good time. OK, here, go, Eric, go.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I mean, they’re honestly all getting blurred together at this point because of the way that I’m talking about server-to-server. But typically, when we say partners, that’s someone that we have a direct relationship with. So that would be like an exchange, so someone like Google Ad Exchange, Rubicon Project, OpenX, Index Exchange, a bunch of names you may not know. Well, probably you know Google. But those are what we call the partners.

Then the buyers actually are on the other side of those exchanges, actually buying the ad inventory. So those are names, again, you may recognize some like Google. Google owns something called DV360, Display and Video 360. It’s a weird product name but it’s fine. It’s Google. People still buy through it. The Trade Desk is another big name in that space and I could keep going. But those are basically what are called DSPs, Demand Side Platforms, those are what we call the buyers. Then the advertisers are the ones actually using the DSP software to buy and pay for all the ads. So you have advertisers buying through DSPs, which buy through exchanges, which buy through Mediavine. So that’s why we’re trying to cut out as much of the — well, what I was calling middleman, where we can work direct with a lot of these people.

JENNY GUY: Do you see why I always want like a whiteboard with picture?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I know. There should be a whiteboard behind me —

JENNY GUY: So many things, and I’m like ah! What about Target? Can I get the Dollar Store things? OK, Michelle, I’m not sure about your question. She’s asking, are there best practices on the CTAs? Is that what you’re asking? It says CATS. But she also said earlier, she’s watching us from a boat. So she’s very dedicated and I don’t want to throw stones. Michelle, restate your question. OK, while we’re talking about all of those things, let us talk about our other big announcement that we made, which is a change to our application requirements. I want to talk about the changes that we made and why we needed to make them, how it’s going to be great for Mediavine publishers despite some initial pain.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so I guess people are probably aware at this point that we raised the minimums at Mediavine to 50,000 sessions a month. And we kind of removed the blanket approval we used to give for second sites below the threshold.

JENNY GUY: The unofficial official.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: The unofficial official blanket exception. Now it’s kind of back to what it should have been, which is an exception on a case by case basis. So the reason why we did this is, honestly, a lot of it is we are just extremely lucky because our publishers keep referring us more publishers. So we do our best to release the best product. And I know I’m talking to my Director of Marketing but we don’t do a lot of outbound marketing or really any outbound marketing. It’s all, I guess, inbound marketing. I hate that term from HubSpot.

JENNY GUY: Content marketing, we do —

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Content marketing, thank you, much less gross of a word. So we would rather just educate, and create a great product and let our publishers speak for it themselves. And that’s what you guys have really done. And our growth has been incredible these last five years now. But really, what happened was, with COVID, more people on the internet. A lot of different genres got increases in traffic. A lot of people honestly lost their jobs and turned towards blogging. All sorts of combinations things led to us having 3 to 4 times our normal application volume.
So this was something that was already in the works but was accelerated by the fact that we had to do something if we were going to make sure we maintain the quality that is Mediavine. And so one of the easiest ways to do that was kind of focusing more on the core and decreasing the number of new applications coming in and new sites being launched. And the easiest way to do that, unfortunately, was, yeah, raising minimums and ending some of the blanket exceptions, so we could get things back to a more sustainable growth level. We’re still growing like crazy. And thank you guys. Keep sending us — keep referring people. This is just the best way we can make sure we’re offering the best service we can to our primary obligation, that is to our current publishers.

JENNY GUY: And I think that’s a lot of the key of it is that we are known at Mediavine for service. And we are known for providing top service to everyone. And in order to be able to sustain that service, to continue offering it, we had to make some adjustments. Everyone said just hire more people.

We have. A whole lot of times, like a whole, whole bunch of times. We’ve expanded, and expanded and expanded to be able to provide the level of service that our publishers received at the beginning of this five years ago. And so in order to keep that happening and to remain a company that only answers to ourselves, that doesn’t have outside investors, to have all of that remain sustainable, we need to make this change. We get that it sucks. We get it. And we’ve got other things in the works that we can’t necessarily talk about now but maybe in a few months.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, no, so we always love the fact that we have been one of the inspirations to help so many bloggers get into this space. And we want to continue to be that. We know it sucks that Mediavine has raised that minimum and I’m sorry. So one of things we are working out as a company as quickly as we can is offering kind of a secondary ad product more geared towards bloggers that either have less traffic or are just kind of starting out. So we’re working on it. Yeah, there’s not much we can speak to about it until we get closer. We’re hoping early 2021 is when we can launch it. We’ll have more news by the end of this year. That’s our hope.

JENNY GUY: And the thing is, giving warning, we couldn’t. That was a really tough decision. I know that. I was behind the scenes. And I saw it. It wasn’t what anyone wanted to do. But we got hit by COVID too, like the ‘rona hit all of us. And it hit all of us in different ways. But some decisions had to be made.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, ultimately it wouldn’t have been fair to our publishers, or even the publishers that were close, if we extended or gave warning. It leads to too many bad practices. And it would lead to a rush of applications. And it would have just compressed the problem and amplified it in a lot of ways.

JENNY GUY: Yes, so if you have questions on that or second site questions, email into publishers. We’re here to talk to you. We understand that some people, some industries and niches have been hit a little bit differently, harsher, with the coronavirus, so email in. We’re still here for you, obviously. So don’t worry about that. OK, Michelle Price emailed in again — messaged again from the boat. She said, are there best practices for language in the Crate CTAs? Yep, it says Crate. But it’s capitalized. She said, stupid auto correct. And I can’t see what I’m typing. Do we have a best practices guide for those CTAs in Create?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: That’s a great question. I don’t know if we have that. Is that mentioned in the blog post?

JENNY GUY: I don’t think we do. It’s probably loosely mentioned. But it sounds like something we need to “crate,” or create, whichever comes first, OK.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: We’re not on the boat, I know.

JENNY GUY: I wish I was on a boat. That would be amazing. OK, another quick thing, guys — and I am keeping my eyes on the time because I want to make sure we have plenty of minutes to discuss what everyone wants to hear about. Another thing though that we’re super proud about, very excited, are the We Stand With You PSA campaigns. We launched an entirely new set of PSAs since the last time we spoke. We’re very proud of it. We had an update to it on Friday. So please talk to us about the things.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, no, absolutely, so PSAs, first off, for those of you who don’t know, at Mediavine we charge a minimum for every ad impression here. That’s to maintain the premium price that we’re able to charge your inventory. So there’s sometimes that just an ad won’t serve if no one was willing to pay that minimum. And so that was thanks to Laurence’s idea, back with the COVID-19 PSAs that, instead of just collapsing the ad, which is what we would do. We would have made sure it looked like there was never an ad there.

Instead, what we did is we gave you an opportunity to kind of serve public service announcements that would talk about — or disseminate good information about COVID-19. And so now, pretty awesome, is that we released the second PSA. And this is just, We Stand With You. But basically helping giving support to the black community who, right now, we’re amplifying their voice. We’re doing what we can as publishers.

And so those PSAs you can run either in addition to or instead of. They’re just simply — you go into your Dashboard under Ad Settings and those are just a checkbox and you’re opted in. Or you can continue to run neither and it will have a blank space or if you want to donate to either of those causes. Now, just recently, which I think is awesome, the We Stand With You — we have a blog post on this — but we kind of — I don’t know if you have any pictures we can show them. Or we can link to it.

JENNY GUY: I might be able share my screen. If you visit — let’s drop it in the landing page so you guys can see the work. Let me see if I can do this real quick.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so we worked with Black artists to basically redo our PSAs. Our original ones were great, but they were made by Susannah and we thought we could go for some new, more authentic ones. If we can share it. And TaKenya, internally from our team, has been leading this up and has done a phenomenal job. Yep, these are awesome. So, yeah, these are actually created by Black artists for this campaign or commissioned for this campaign. So they look great. If you’ve seen them on your site running, they look beautiful — running on your site. So really exciting. So if you haven’t checked them out — or thank you for the blog post link to them — you can see these running on your site by just enabling them.

JENNY GUY: And we’ve had over — we’ve had great numbers of support for these with Mediavine publishers. It’s a great way to spread awareness and spread — with COVID, our focus was spreading reputable information from trusted sources so people could get their facts from — we know you guys have incredible platforms and voices. And with this campaign, it’s, like you said, amplifying melanated voices and supporting the Black community, giving people opportunities to do that. And we’re very, very proud to be doing this. The work TaKenya has done is amazing. It’s been a really inspirational work that we’ve been able to do.

OK, let’s talk about something else. Let’s switch. The demise of third-party cookies is a big thing. And now, I always want cookies whenever we talk about it. It never fails. I want to bake them. But please explain why this is a big deal, why we should care, and what we’re doing about it.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Talking about good things we’re trying to do here to the most depressing topic in advertising. Let’s do it. All right, so those you who are not aware what third-party cookies are, no, they’re not the delicious cookies that Jenny wants right now. They are what basically power personalized ads. So the way cookies work is, when you’re on a website, cookies are used to remember things like your log in, so you don’t have to keep re-logging into Facebook.

What a third-party cookie does is, if someone visits your site, Facebook can now also use a cookie on your site. That is why it’s called a third party. So maybe you’ve noticed when you go to sites that have Facebook comments, it looks like you’re automatically logged in. That’s powered by third-party cookies. Web browsers like Safari have been fighting these for years. They have this thing called ITP, Intelligent Tracking Protection but basically this is also now going to come to Chrome. So the idea is they don’t want third-party cookies to be used anymore.

So it’s going to block the ability for people like Facebook to be able to have it so you’re logged in. But the real reason they’re also doing is because third-party cookies could also be used by people you didn’t even know were using them. So you’ll have what are called “retargeters.” That’s when you see kind of ads of, hey, look, we saw this in your shopping cart at Zappos and now, suddenly you’re on another website. How do they know that you were shopping for this? Well, that was because, again, because of third-party cookies. So those are going away.

So what the industry is looking to do — well, one, we don’t want to suddenly have a drop in revenue because we don’t have any third-party cookies or we don’t know how to personalize ads for you. So a lot of the industry keeps talking about moving towards first-party targeting. So first-party would be the data on your site. So you, as a publisher, you’re the first party. We would target your data as opposed to the third-party data.

And I’m guessing you’re probably thinking, crap, I don’t have any data to share because you don’t. Most of you are not collecting data about your readers. You’re probably just getting traffic, and showing them ads, and, making money off of them, and transaction over. A lot of you guys do have membership logins. I know some of the bigger publishers do that. But for the most part, that’s not really common practice.

So one of things that Mediavine is going to be doing over the next few years is helping build tools for our publishers so they can collect first-party data, and so that we can basically then serve personalized ads or authenticate users. That’s a really big push that we all have to make over the next two years together. And that’s why we’re excited to announce that we have a product coming out — there we go — Grow.me is going to be the next evolution of our product row.

So those of you know that we acquired a social sharing plug-in, Social Pug, for WordPress, we’re now going to be taking that to new levels with Grow.me which is going to work for non-WordPress sites even for the first time ever, because it’s going to be served right through the script wrapper. It’s going to be something you just enable in the Mediavine Dashboard. And it’s going to be a new service called Grow.me.

It’s going to combine the social sharing aspects of Grow. It’s going to allow your readers to log into your site. They’re going to be able to store favorites. They’re going to be all store favorites across all Mediavine and soon all Grow sites, so hopefully up to 90,000 different publishers, they’ll be able to log into one easy log in and be able to save recipes, save posts across everything. They’ll be able to, again, share.

We’re working on things such as opt-ins for it, kind of the newsletter thing that we’ve talked about in the past. All that’s coming to what we call now Grow.me. And the best part is it’s going to be free for all of our publishers. It’s going to help them create first-party data. It’s going to improve the user experience. It’s going to make them more money because they’re going to have first-party data. And again, it’s going to increase their traffic because their readers are going to stick along for longer and consume more content.

JENNY GUY: So I’m going to translate a little bit into — yeah. OK, so the third-party cookie situation is basically you have to serve non-personalized ads if we can’t collect those third-party cookies. And those don’t pay very much at all.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, so you go back to the old style way of ads, which is pre-programmatic, where you would just kind of spray and pray ad campaigns. You don’t know anything about the reader, so you just serve them any ad. You may serve, you know, an ad geared towards —

JENNY GUY: Toe fungus.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, toe fungus to someone who doesn’t have toe fungus. That would be terrible.

JENNY GUY: Or toes.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Or toes, who knows. So really you want personalized ads. We think it’s a better experience for the reader. They would rather see ads that are related to them, in the language that they speak, everything about them that they actually care about. So they’re also generally higher quality ads. And yes, they pay more to our publishers. So that would kind of go away if you have non-personalized ads. We’d all go back to significantly lower CPMs. We would make less money and readers would have a worse experience.

JENNY GUY: So this is our — so the baseline of Grow.me is our solution for the third-party cookie going away. That’s the baseline of what Grow.me is going to be. It also is going to have all these other things rolled into it that we’ve been talking about for a while. So the reason why — what do we want people to do with Grow.me right now?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So one thing that’s really awesome on Grow.me is, yes, it’s going to grow into a ton of stuff that you’re going to love as publishers and your readers will love. It’s going to be a kind of a product that continues to — I’ve got to stop using the the font. It will evolve. It will evolve over time. And one of the important things is that it’s built using similar technology to our script wrapper, our ad technology.

You may not realize it, but our ad technology is updating almost every day. Every week, we’re releasing new versions of it, sometimes multiple times a week. We’re running continuous tests across small percentages of traffic. And that’s what Grow is going to allow us to do as well, because it’s deployed using similar technology. Everything we’ve learned the last five years, we’re now taking that to Grow to take our previous WordPress plugin to the next level by allowing us to, again, deliver it through the script wrapper and continuously test and develop it. But in order to do that, we need publishers to run it on their sites.

Unfortunately, AB testing, or any kind of machine learning type of stuff require just a ton of traffic. And that’s one thing that Mediavine is very good at with 7,100 publishers. It’s not good when we have 2 publishers running it, which are currently the number running Grow.me because we haven’t ever announced it before. So we’re going to — right. So now we’re going to have a link. It’s actually at www.grow.me, grow.me. And if you go there, you can sign up for the beta. And once you sign up for the beta, we’ll be able to enable just a setting in your Dashboard that you are able to click and turn it on or off.

JENNY GUY: And just to let everyone know, so this is like — it’s a baseline. We’re just starting out with the social proof, which is a great feature and it’s really exciting. It’s going to incorporate some of what’s going on with Grow Social Pro. So if you’re already a Grow Social Pro user, how are those things going to interact, Eric?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so really cool, if you’re running Grow Social Pro, this will be in addition to, not replacing. So that will still power all of your Pinterest features, all your share accounts. What this will do is actually take the share accounts that you’re already generating in your plugin and will display them to your users. So what’s really cool as that what Grow is going to be is, it’s a little icon in the bottom right that kind of floats with the user.
That’s where it’s kind of their hub, where they’re going to be on a share from, they’ll be able to favorite things, they’ll be able to look at their past favorites, they’ll be able to log in or log out. And through there, it’s actually going to show them the total number of shares on that post combined with the number of people that have favorited it or liked it through Grow. So you’re going to get kind of this awesome social proof and showing users, hey, this recipe or this post was liked by and shared by x number of people. So that’s how it’s going to incorporate your share counts from Grow Social Pro.

JENNY GUY: Do you have to have the Grow plugin to be in this beta? Do you have to have the Grow Social Pro to be in this beta?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: No, this is available for any Mediavine publisher. And again, you don’t even need to run WordPress. You just need to have a blog. So if you’re running Blogger, or Squarespace or some SBI — I don’t know — Wix. I can’t even come up with any of them on the spot anymore. No, not Wix. No, I’m kidding. If you’re running Wix, that’s fine. It’ll work with all these. So you’re just going to click one button in the dashboard and it will enable Grow.me on your site. If you are running, again, Social Pro, our plug-in, our paid plugin, it will incorporate your share accounts onto your site. And if you’re not running it, that’s fine. You just don’t get the share counts displayed yet. That’s something we’re going to have to work on for non-WordPress users later.

JENNY GUY: So the third-party cookie thing is, again, the baseline of what we’re doing with this. We want your feedback in this beta as we start to increase the number of people participating in the beta to find out what features we want to focus on, where we want to build things out, what’s most important to our users here.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: 100%, like, this is something that, yes, will ultimately lead to more ad revenue and protect your business long-term. But we also want to be valuable to the readers and valuable to you. The only way a reader is going to consent to giving you that log in information or log into your site is because you’re providing value. We have to provide value. And nobody knows your readers better than you. So let’s build this together. Like, we need your input.

JENNY GUY: And we’re changing the order of how we’ve done this. Because typically, we’ve built a whole bunch of stuff and invested a lot of developer time into it on the back end before anyone knows about it. This time we’re starting out with a minimum of features and then expanding from there.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, this is the opposite of the way we do a lot of Mediavine. So it’s even tripping us up internally here. We’re launching with what is typically called an MVP, or Minimum Viable Product. We just want to get something launched so that our publishers can start to run this as soon as possible and help us build it together. We have a fantastic new team working on this, here at Mediavine, that cannot wait for your feedback. And we’ll build upon this very quickly. And again, it’s built on the same technology as our ad serving, so it can be really fast development.

JENNY GUY: We are making people’s minds explode. And we haven’t even talked about Trellis yet. Let me read some comments here. OK, we have some questions now about what impact is this going to have on GDPR and CCPA? How will data collection work with the CCPA? Talk about that for a second, please.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So one thing is you’re going to probably see Mediavine, at this point, register as a vendor because we’re going to have to help you collect data. And I’m sure our lawyer’s listening to this and shaking her head. Why didn’t you run all this by me first?

JENNY GUY: Sorry, Jamie.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Ooh, yeah, sorry Jamie. No, we did. We actually now run things by her. We have a weekly meeting set up. She’s smiling. Don’t worry. So yeah, we’re going to help you obtain consent if you run the Mediavine CMP, which you do. And with the CCPA, we’ll obviously be able to respect those signals. That’s part of the great part about Mediavine being your official TCF 1.3 and soon 2.0 CMP is that we can help you handle GDPR for these plugins. We can’t help you with third-party plugins. They have to respect those signals. But obviously, we will, as Mediavine, we’re the ones sending the signals. We will receive the signals.

JENNY GUY: We’re sending and receiving. That’s how awesome we are. Michelle Palin says, just popped in. I didn’t get the notification when this started. So I’ll rewatch what I missed later. Sweet. When will the feature of being able to add an exit pop up newsletter sign up be part of Grow?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So we’re going to be introducing what we’re calling Grow Leads. I think that’s the working name for it, the concept of being able to generate your own newsletter leads and other types of leads on your sites, pretty early on into this. But the way you’re probably going to see it might not be through an exit intent or necessarily a pop up out the gate. That’s going to be later features.

But as soon as we can, we’re going to make sure any user that’s logging to your site or favoriting, you’re able to get those leads as quickly as possible. We want to make sure that this is generating you value, as the publisher, and not just your reader, as soon as we can. So Grow Leads will be, I think, earlier than you think. But then we’re going to be slowly adding on other ways of generating sign ups on your page.

JENNY GUY: Does this work with the Trellis beta?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh, man, Trellis finally came up. All right, yes, it does.

JENNY GUY: No, don’t launch yet. I’m not there.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: OK, all right, yeah, it 100% will be geared towards working directly with Trellis and Create. We often joke about how all of our things interconnect. And we use — was it Transformers that Jordan went with? I like Power Rangers. I don’t even know which one.

JENNY GUY: The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, we’re definitely going Power Rangers. So they kind of morphed together. I don’t even remember with the Power Rangers became. I need to not do those.

JENNY GUY: The super — because they fought Rita. Rita, and there was the Powerzorg. Don’t even, yeah, OK.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, so they’re all going to — yeah, they will work very well together and be stronger together. That’s the whole idea behind all of our products here. If you’re running all of them, yes, they will 100% work together.

JENNY GUY: OK, some people are asking about a product called Slickstream, and what sort of impact Slickstream might have on this if you’re already running it, and the relationship between SlickStream and Grow.me.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So, I mean, flat out, they’re going to be competitors. They’re going to be offering similar services. That’s what Slickstream does. It helps you kind of create more user engagement on your site. That is the entire pretense of Grow. From Grow Social Pro and from Opt-In before. It’s always been a competitor to Slickstream. This is going to be more of a direct competitor because it’s also going to allow favoriting. So you’ll have to pick which one. This one is going to allow you to control your data. And it’s going to allow you to use that data to help you better monetize. So we hope that people will like Grow.me. But if you want to use Slickstream, we’d love to work with them to see if you can get control of your first-party data and use it with our ads too in the future.

JENNY GUY: I don’t know. I’m just going to say that Grow.me is free. And is Slickstream free?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, right, also ours is free and will work very well with things like Create and Trellis, of course, and be optimized for page speed.

JENNY GUY: But you know, what else? OK, let’s — I was so shady and salty. All “righty.” Grow.me asks if I’m running Slickstream. Will Slickstream be a problem? We’ve already said, no, you can go ahead and use both. It’s not going to hurt anything, right?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Well, that’s kind of why we’re asking. So the initial round of Grow.me people, it’s not going to be for people running Slickstream because we basically would be running the same service twice. So Grow.me will initially be for non-Slickstream publishers. So again, we’re not telling you to shut off Slickstream. It’s just the initial people we’re looking to bring in will people that are not running it.

JENNY GUY: Got it. OK, Jordan JG came in and said it was Megazord. So thank you, JG.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Ooh, thank you. Thank you.

JENNY GUY: Woo, I was stumbling. I used to watch that every morning. Red Ranger Jason for life. OK, the time has come. Let’s do it. We’ve got about 20 minutes left. Trellis, we have some incredible metrics to share from our expanded beta. We’ve got some pretty hard dates to share. We’ve got it all. Spill the tea. Talk about Trellis. Let’s do this.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: All right, man, Trellis, last 20 minutes, that’s how it likes the shine, at the very end. All right, so we have a blog post. Do we have that live yet?

JENNY GUY: Yeah, it’s live. We’re going to share the link. We’re going to share the link about it. Yeah, we’re saving our most valuable content until the very end. I worked with Mediavine on that. I read our blog posts.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So definitely refer to that for all the numbers because, otherwise, I would just be rambling off percentages you don’t care about. It makes sites faster. It gets them more traffic. It makes readers stay on site for longer. It makes them more money. I mean, that’s the basic summary of all the stats.

JENNY GUY: Pause. How do we know? Rewind.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so we have, is it 60 people live, or 70?

JENNY GUY: 60. 60.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: 60. I don’t know. Jordan, who commented and it doesn’t just save us from Power Rangers. We also launch a site —

JENNY GUY: No that’s the other Jordan — other Jordan. Jordan Gilreath is the one who told us about Megazord.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, isn’t that —

JENNY GUY: Oh, OK, OK, sorry, sorry, I’ll be quiet. Great.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: OK, I have the right Jordan. JG come on.

JENNY GUY: You do. I have the wrong Jordan. Sorry.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh, man, Jordan Cauley’s not launching sites. She’s just yelling at Jordan to launch sites.

JENNY GUY: He’s a yeller now, good.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, yeah, I mean, have you heard his voice? He’s a good yeller.

JENNY GUY: Oh, I’ve heard it.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, exactly, so this is all coming from our 60 plus sites that are running it. Pretty universally, Trellis has improved — actually, entirely universally, it has improved page feed. And a lot of these other metrics are pretty common amongst every site running it. During the beta, we’ve required everyone to basically give us access to their Google Analytics. And we have been tracking all these kind of measurements since they launched it. And so the publishers can also follow along at home and see how it’s been improving their metrics. So pretty universally, Trellis has had the success I think we hoped it would. We didn’t believe it at first. And it has maintained now through 60 sites. So even I’m believing the hype of Trellis.

JENNY GUY: I’ve got some stats if you want to hear them.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Absolutely.

JENNY GUY: These are from Matt Howe’s blog post that we just posted. Just went live today. We haven’t been promoting it. We wanted to wait. We have seen a 30% increase in page speed with Trellis, an average increase of 32 points in GPSI, Google Page Speed Insights. We’ve also seen increases in total sessions, which is a 5% increase, in total page use, which is a 10% increase, and overall users, a 5% increase along with nearly two additional ad impressions per session on these 60 sites running Trellis. Not too shabby.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Those are all good stats.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, those are good stats to have. And they’re in the blog post. So we’ve been gradually, as Matt describes in the post we shared, we’ve been gradually onboarding sites that are outside of the Mediavine team. And now we’re up to 60 sites running it. Let’s go ahead and ask the question that everyone wants to know anyway. When is it going to be ready?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: All right, so our goal right now is, we’ve actually set a hard date of when anyone can sign up and set up Trellis and that’s going to be September. September of this year, we will make sure that anyone who wants Trellis can sign up and run Trellis. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be out of beta and it’s going to be completely feature complete and ready for, what we would call, like just an open or public release. It’s going to be kind of an open beta, will be our goal by September.

So we want to continue to work, and this is what we talk about in the blog post, is we have more child themes we need to develop. People I think have noticed — basically, things have been posted to Facebook. You’ve already seen Trellis sites. A lot of the Trellis sites are running the core theme — or the core framework, not even a theme yet and not even a child theme. So one of the things we want to do is make sure that we have enough child themes so that Trellis sites can start to look unique, and look more polished and look more designed, basically.

So we want to make sure we have more child themes. That’s one of the big reasons why we’re waiting till September. We’ve also been gathering feedback. Having 60 publishers is already the start of great feedback to learn what our publishers need in a theme, beyond what Mediavine wants in a theme, which is obviously page speed and great for ads. You have unique businesses, unique sites. We want to make sure the Trellis is able to accomplish all of your goals. That’s why it’s kind of been a slow roll to make sure we’re able to do all this. And we’re working with third-party developers and designers to make the core.

JENNY GUY: Already.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: What’s that?

JENNY GUY: Already. We’re already doing that.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, right, right, sorry — as part of this beta. That’s one of the reasons why, again, we don’t want to release this thing any faster is we want to make sure that everyone has had a chance to kind of look at Trellis and give us all their feedback. So that includes, not just from publishers, but from other developers and other designers, letting us know what they need Trellis to do. Because once it’s in wide release, a lot of this stuff would be harder to change. It’s easier to change now when it’s a smaller pool of people running it.

So that’s why — for example, we’re working with Skylar at Feast Design Company to make sure that he can port over some of the Feast child themes over to Trellis. And we wouldn’t want to be able to release before that’s ready or a bunch people feel they’d have to leave their existing themes. So we want to make sure you don’t have to. If you love the look and feel of your site and just want it to be faster, that will be a great solution for anyone running Feast child themes.

JENNY GUY: OK, as you might imagine, the comments exploded. So let me start catching up some of these and going back. OK, going back to Melanie MacDonald. This is a question back to Slickstream slash Grow.me. Will there be a facility to move our reader favorite saved on Slickstream to this so they don’t lose them all if they switch?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, if we can get an export out of Slickstream, we could definitely work on that. So if you’re able to get that data from Slickstream, we’d love to about to work on an importer.

JENNY GUY: Shashi says, I’ve been in the Trellis beta for a couple of weeks. And the site is faster, more traffic and more moolah. So that’s, I mean, yeah. We’ll take those. Camilla asked, remind me what Trellis is, please. We’ve actually shared blog posts in there. So that’s better than going through all of those. We’ve had some people asking about sharing web sites that are running Trellis. We’ve had some of our viewers volunteering their own sites, linking them. And we can share more. Lance Cothern says, has a cost been nailed down for Trellis?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I know that question comes up all the time. So we have not nailed down a cost. One thing I can tell you is what we’re charging our beta people right now. And I don’t know if that’s going to be the number. Currently, they’re all getting a free trial. But the number we’ve been telling all beta testers, all the share it now, because there’s already enough of them that they probably have shared it anyway. It’s $9 a month or $99 a year and that’s for the API access.

So you got to remember that Trellis is going to replace your image generation. It’s going to replace a lot of the features that WP Rocket does for you and a lot of that requires the use of what’s called an API or we need a server that basically generates things for Trellis. And in order to pay for the cost of those servers, which are expensive, we have to charge for the API. So that’s just for the APIs that we’re charging that $99 a year or $9 a month. But again, that replaces things that might be costing you way more money. So Trellis is paying you is the way you can look at that one.

JENNY GUY: Yeah, it’s going to cost dollars. I was going to say. Usually, as your Marketing Director, I tell you to — you defend why you’re charging and all of those things. And I get it. I don’t think we need to defend it with Trellis. The results on its own are good.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: This is way too cheap. To be honest, it’s replacing plugins that will probably cost you hundreds of dollars a year. And we’re charging $100 a year. But one of the things — again, this is just recovering the cost of the API during the beta. We haven’t nailed down the pricing of what it’s going to be.

Child themes will be extremely competitive, anything that we sell compared to other child themes out there. We’re not releasing Trellis to make money off Trellis. Again, the whole idea of Trellis is, let us help our publishers get more traffic. And let’s all make more money off ads together. That’s how Mediavine pays its bills. Trellis is built in service of the ads. So we want to get it for you as cheap as we can, ultimately.

JENNY GUY: In service of the ads, but also in service of all of the other things, user experience, I mean, everything, all of the things, site speed, all the wonderful things which go hand in hand with having great ad performance. OK, Kelly Wildenhouse says, I’m in beta now. Will I be able to switch down the road to a child theme?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, one of the great things about Trellis is you can switch between any of the child themes right now. Email into your contacts at Trellis. I don’t even know. Do we have a Trellis@Mediavine. I don’t even know what they use for support, Matt if you’re there.

JENNY GUY: I think we do.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: And I think we can even send you the invites as we have, I think, right now, only one child theme is currently ready, which is Bamboo, that we have a couple of people testing. Wisteria is still almost ready. And then we have Birch being worked on. And we’re just providing those to our beta testers. So yeah, you’ll be able switch very easily. And that’s the whole idea behind Trellis. You’re just going to pop on a child theme. Child themes are extremely lightweight in Trellis. Most of the stuff is built into the core. So you can easily just pop into a different child theme.

JENNY GUY: Shashi’s on Bamboo and she shared her site. So we have that. Michelle says, September is the new Christmas for me. Yes. Michelle Hall, says, may I just say the Trellis setup scheme is amazing. So, so helpful, especially Jordan, who worked with me. We’ll call him Megazord from now on. Kerry Bradley says, will there be some Create travel lists ready for Trellis too, please.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so Create Lists can already be used for Travel. And I think we’re working on some cool stuff with Lists to help you a little bit more with Travel. We’ll have more on that later. The next major feature of Create is Indexes, which is a big request for all of our Trellis current beta users, which is they want a way to be able to build kind of a custom home page. And that’s what Indexes are going to be used for. So Indexes are the next big thing from Create. But after that, we’ll be able to start releasing a lot of other cool new features.

JENNY GUY: But just to clarify, on the Create — the Travel lists, like top places and things like that, just explain why that’s not us, that’s public.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Oh, sorry, OK, if you’re asking specifically about Top Places, which is something I’ve hinted at now, for almost two years, coming to Create. Top Places was originally a Google beta where you could, as a travel blogger, mark things up in a certain schema known as Top Places. And you could list — Top 10 I think, Chinese restaurants in New York City was their example. So you could see how of travel bloggers would use that.

They actually killed that beta. So they ended that product. There is no more concept of Top Places at Google. So we can’t build something that doesn’t exist anymore. So we’re working on some other things for our travel bloggers in Create. There are other schema types that I think we’d better apply to them that still exist. I mean, unfortunately, Google does this, right? They try a lot of different experiments. They throw a lot at the wall. Not everything sticks. You guys remember Google+? That was a thing. It’s not anymore. Nor are Top Places, unfortunately. That’s the Google method.

JENNY GUY: OK, Michelle Platt says, will there be assistance available, like, could she pay to move the site to Trellis, customization, things like that?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, so one of things we do right now for every beta member is what we’re calling white glove service. And that’s one of things we’re testing, to see the viability of us offering this white glove service. Again, this would be the concept of, for as cheap as we can possibly do it, can we basically sell you Mediavine support engineer times that they can help do this for you. And so far, it’s actually been working out very well. I think everyone who’s talking about how awesome it is to work with Jordan and Rachel, have been basically trialing the idea of that white glove service. So we’re really hoping we can do that even after the beta.

JENNY GUY: And they all look great in their white gloves. They’re very, very good looking. OK, Michelle says, interesting, so if we haven’t moved to a new theme, and Feast will be ported over, should we look at moving now rather than waiting for Trellis or hold on.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I would hold on. We’re actively working with Skylar, again, to make sure that those child themes, hopefully as many of them as possible, are basically going to be Trellis-compatible. You’ll choose the Trellis or the Genesis version and then his plug-in, obviously, the Feast plugin will hopefully work with both, right? That’s the idea that you don’t have to do anything, no heavy lifting at all if you’re already on a Feast theme.

JENNY GUY: Zona Marie says, any idea when Trellis Images plugin will be updated? I have to wait for the update before I can reactivate it.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, the development is done on a new version of Trellis Images. We’re just waiting for — so we have a pretty intense QA process now, so quality assurance. We actually have a whole team now dedicated toward just basically —

JENNY GUY: That’s so responsible, you guys.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I know — testing everything before it gets released. And that’s why WordPress plugins and themes take a while because you have to test them against an insane number of environments. Every single one of our publishers, I feel like, especially in the beta where we purposely did this, are running different versions of PHP.
They’re running on different hosting companies. They’re running different versions of WordPress. They’re running a whole different set of plugins. So that’s kind of what our QA team is able to do. They’re able to now replicate what people are running in the real world and make sure that Trellis Images works before we put it on your site, so we’re not breaking your site.

JENNY GUY: So many variables, and we want to make sure that — yeah, the goal, bottom line, is not breaking you. So that’s our whole purpose around here, making you money and not breaking you in the process. OK, we have a few more things. We’ve got an individual, Terry O’Connor, says, I have a web design in mind that I’d like to emulate. Who can we speak to about seeing if this design will be compatible with the Trellis framework? Email into Trellis@Mediavine.com which we already have — which is a thing. J.G. confirmed that. Kathy says, any magazine Trellis child things coming up soon? Eric, question for you.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So we’re actually hoping that with Mediavine, we don’t need to release a magazine style layout that people will be able to use Create Indexes. And if we’re wrong and we need to create more of a magazine layout child theme, we will. But we’d rather first see what people can do with Create Indexes. And we also want to see what the community is going to offer in terms of child themes because we don’t want everyone just to run Mediavine child themes. We want a healthy kind of Trellis marketplace.

JENNY GUY: An ecosystem. We have so many compliments for Rachel, and Matt Howe, and Jordan, and the Trellis team. They are loving your white gloves, you guys. OK, Larisha Bernard says, I’m curious. Your response to the question, if someone is nervous about giving Mediavine access to so much of our site in the event the company ever folds, running ads, themes, social plugins, more. Obviously, no one wants that. But this whole industry is volatile. That’s an understatement. So I’m just interested in your thoughts, Eric.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: No, there’s nothing I can ever say that would make you feel that you should hand every egg to our basket. I can just tell you that our basket is here to stay. We’ve been here for 15 years. And I will make sure our basket is here for at least another 15. Do not worry. This is my passion. So yes, we will make sure that you are in good hands if you trust, as much as you can, to Mediavine. And the more you do, the more our stuff works better together.
Again, our ads on Trellis sites, you heard, they’re getting two more impressions per session. What does that mean? If you were only running eight or 10, you’re now going to make 20% more money. We’re going to make 20% more money. It’s better for, obviously, everyone. There’s a reason why we’re trying to build this awesome ecosystem where everything works together. But the important thing also about Trellis is that it is going to be a framework upon which other developers can work on. So the good news is if anything were to ever happen for Mediavine, there will be other Trellis themes. And I’m sure someone else could build our API for it to work with. But I would not worry about that. Mediavine is — unfortunately you’re stuck with us for a while.

JENNY GUY: They won’t have white gloves. Their gloves could be green.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, and it also is worth noting, if you run Trellis or even Create, you can use other ad management companies. That’s never been, right, a requirement. So you’re not locked in by using this.

JENNY GUY: The Megazord works better when you have all of the things happening at the same time. But we are in no way saying that you have to run everything in order to have access to any one thing. That’s not what we’re saying at all.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, for example, Create Jump to Recipe will still work if you’re with a different ad management company. But it won’t have all the exclusives that our ads have, the arrival unit, kind of the pausing, the loading any content ads to improve your view-ability. That stuff is exclusive to Mediavine ads. But you can still run Create with a different ad management company.

JENNY GUY: Absolutely. OK, Rose says, a lot of Mediavine employees are bloggers. And we have all our eggs in the Mediavine baskets too. Right there with you. Yeah, it’s a thing. And we talked about this — I can’t even remember when we talked about it because, again, what is time?

But we talked about the “stay in your lane” thing. And I can’t remember when we talked about that the last time. But some people say, just work on ads. But the thing about it is, they all go together. And if you have control over each of the things, and you improve each of the things, optimize each of the things, you’re going to make — the ads will be better. That’s just kind of the way it works.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: And in two years, I think you guys will be yelling at every other ad management company who didn’t stay in their lane when you’re asked to be able to basically provide first-party data. So that’s, again, the idea behind Grow.me. We may be leaving what’s considered, now, a conventional ad management lane. And in two years, that will be the lane. We’re just doing it early because we’re Mediavine and we’ve always been doing it that way.

JENNY GUY: And we can’t wait until it becomes a problem when the bottom falls out, and everybody has questions and is panicking. We’re doing it now. It is our lane. It is all our lane. Again, you don’t have to do it. Nobody is saying you have to. People are asking about Create Indexes. Do we have a deadline for those, when those might be live? People are questioning about it. Is there a link that explains them? Someone talk about the Indexes.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: So Indexes are going into beta, I know, after the holiday. Nobody wants to launch a beta right before we enter into a holiday weekend. And so we’re starting the beta of them. And the beta basically means they’re going to be live on other publisher sites. Once the beta — I don’t know, they could theoretically be out end of July. So they’ll be out soon. The development is done. They work. They’re great. They’re beautiful. And they work very well. It’s just we have to, again, make sure they go through an intense QA process now. And it’s all part of everything to make sure that we don’t break your sites.

JENNY GUY: Love that. OK, we are almost out of time. So I am going to make a couple of announcements. There are a bunch of things though happening that we didn’t even get a chance to talk about, like Outstream Video and CLS, and what else and Playlists. And there are a whole, whole, whole, lot of things. Do you have to go meet with Google? Brad always wants you to go meet with Google right after our Lives? Do you have that today?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: No, I think that’s when we do our Thursday Lives. On Monday, I actually have to meet with Brad after these but Brad canceled our meeting. So we’re fine you got me.

JENNY GUY: Brad?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I know. That’s how much he likes you.

JENNY GUY: He owes me a blog post. That’s what he’s doing. OK, will you talk a little bit about — tease those things out that we need to have another live talk about.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, we’re probably going to definitely need another live because those are a lot of things. Outstream, I will say, is one of the awesome things we worked on during this pandemic. And that is basically building our own, what’s called Outstream player. Outstream is — instead of being pre-roll ads, or video ads that run before your video content — we’re now able to run video ads just inside your content without any content after, so just video ads.

And video ads pay like three to four times on a display ad. But they’re traditionally slower. So we built our own player. It’s incredibly fast. And it’s already live on your site. And most of our publishers are making anywhere between 5% and 10% more money from just nothing happening. And that was from us launching Outstream. We’ll talk a lot more about this, I think. We probably owe people a blog post and some more explanations about it. It’s exciting. It makes everyone, again. 5% to 10% more money in testing, maybe even more than that. And that’s not even running in every ad. That’s just running in certain ads on your site as we’re testing it more.

JENNY GUY: So hold on, just to decipher, you’re saying that I don’t have to have my own video content to run video ads?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, not anymore. So that’s the idea behind Mediavine launching Outstream. Everyone is now able to make video CPMs at Mediavine. They won’t be as high as what’s called Instream, or pre-roll ads, ads before your content. Those are always a premium. But now we’re able to run video ads without there being any content afterwards. So people will, again, take advantage of those CPMs that are several times higher than display ads.

JENNY GUY: Does that mean I should stop worrying about making video, if I’m a publisher?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: No, definitely not. Again, nothing will pay you more money than Instream ads or pre-roll ads. And we are putting so much time and investment into our video player. As you alluded to, Playlists are finally coming out very soon. It’s something that was waiting on the new dashboard. And as you guys may have noticed, there’s a new dashboard. It’s here. Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. And Playlists are currently about to be beta tested soon. So again, they’re done with development. Now we just have to go work on that QA and beta testing process. So you will have Playlists very soon.

JENNY GUY: And I got, actually, an update on — we have, when you just keep saying, you know, we say, we’re working on this. We’re working on this. For people that are going, you’ve just said you’re working on 75 different things, we have 24 engineers now. That’s the number.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Right, yeah, what’s important to note — and I guess this goes back to the same lane — is people may think we’re not working on ads, because we work on all these things. First off, we work on ads more than anything here. That is my main focus. But we have people like Jordan on the team, now Matt Howe, who a lot of you have met through the Trellis beta. He runs the Trellis team.

And we basically split off product and engineering based on all of these different products. So we have huge teams dedicated towards each of these different products. They have different support people, different product people, different engineers. So while someone is working on all these different things, do not worry. It doesn’t impact other things being developed.

JENNY GUY: They stopped ads, ah.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: We don’t stop working on ads we go work on Create. And that’s never been the case.

JENNY GUY: We have some questions, also, about, can you still sign up for the Trellis beta, meaning can you get on it in the meantime? Are we saw onboarding people? What’s the circumstance with that?

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Yeah, I always encourage people. I think it’s just Mediavine.com/beta. Sign up for the Trellis beta. Because basically, again, we’re trying to find unique people to be running in this beta. So we want sites of different sizes, on different hosts, different versions of WordPress, PHP. You never know when we’re going to be looking for your exact site combination. We are onboarding multiple people a day still. So the beta is still happening. It’s just, I know we’re going to completely open up the floodgates in September. That’s the date I’m giving if you’re going to be sick of waiting.

JENNY GUY: Also I think you’re all unique. I know that maybe the developers won’t choose you for the beta. But in my heart, each one of you is unique even if you don’t get on the Trellis beta. And everyone’s going to be on it in September. So don’t worry. Don’t worry about it. OK, we didn’t talk about CLS at all. Do you want to cram a little —
ERIC HOCHBERGER: Sure, so CLS are Cumulative Layout Shift —

JENNY GUY: You’re getting dry-mouth because you’ve been talking so much.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Wait, OK, I’m going to go for it, a two-handed water sip real quick.

JENNY GUY: Please take a sip because you sound a little overwhelmed.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: All right, CLS, Cumulative Layout Shift, is one of the new kind of page experience metrics on Google. So it’s going to become a major ranking factor in 2021. So it’s not a ranking factor yet. But in the future, you have to solve things like CLS. That basically, as you’re scrolling through a page, does the page shift around a lot. Like, do suddenly lazy loaded images pop your content down, or a lazy loaded add, or even just a regular ad if you scroll really fast.

So this is basically an issue that a lot of people think, is isolated to the ads. It’s not. You have to solve it for your own site as well. But we’re going to solve the ad site of things. We actually have our first update to that being launched, I think, even this week. So we should start seeing improvement to your CLS when it comes to your ads. But we’re still encouraging everyone, download, I believe, it’s called the Web Vitals Chrome Extension. And test on your site. And you can always use — and someone’s going to have to put this in the comments — querystringtest=killswitch.

JENNY GUY: Oh, it just rolls off the tongue.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Rolls off the tongue. Now, it will basically emulate any page in your site not running the script wrapper at all. It basically kills kill switches, the script wrapper from running. And you can test what does CLS look like with no ads. And if you’re perfect, you have a 0 and you scroll super fast through your whole page, or you click your Jump to Recipe button, nothing bad happens with no ads.

I know that we’re fixing the ad side of thing, but chances are, if you have a theme that is optimized for either your style sheets, using something like Autoptimize or WP Rocket, you’re probably going to CLS issues. So we’re solving them on the Trellis side. We solve them on the ad side. But you have to solve them on your team’s side if you’re not running Trellis. But, yeah, that’s coming this week.

JENNY GUY: This week? So, OK —

ERIC HOCHBERGER: The first version. I shouldn’t say the only version of it.

JENNY GUY: So while I tell everybody really quickly what’s happening for the rest of this week, I want you to think about what are the CTAs right now? What do you want people to go do? Think about that. OK, wait that was a whole lot. My head is spinning. OK, guys, this was a crazy hour, 60– hour plus. Thank you for staying with us. This Thursday, July 2, at 3:00 PM Eastern time, the Summer of Live is continuing. I have Sherry Smothermon-Short, who is such an awesome person.

She’s from Cub Scout Ideas and Painless Blog Analytics. She is going to talk about Google Analytics with us. And she is also going to talk about — she and I have been e-mailing back and forth about this — how she uses her Google Analytics expertise to intersect with the Mediavine Dashboard 2.0 and talk about how page level RPMs are really helping her analyze that knowledge. So we’re going to talk about ways to next level your Google Analytics knowledge and incorporate it with the Mediavine Dashboard 2.0. Don’t miss it. She’s awesome.

OK, Eric, what are your CTAs for our listeners today, all of them make it 150 of them.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: I’m going to make it easy. Even though we talked for an hour about everything in the entire world, we’re going to tell them just one thing. You’re going to go. And you’re going to go to Grow.me. And you’re going to sign up for the beta. Apply to be in that beta. We’re going to be taking a lot of people. We need publishers. This product is really exciting. Help us develop it. So I would say that’s your main call to action at the end of this is Grow.me.

JENNY GUY: Also, read the blog post about Trellis if you have questions. Read, go through the comments. We share comments about all the things. Eric, you have to come back. You’re back with me in two weeks, I think. You and Amber are both back. We’re going to talk about all these other things. There will be so much more to talk about by then. Eric’s and my quarantine hair will continue to look awesome as it does today for both of —

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Still growing.

JENNY GUY: I look like Albert Einstein. But you guys, thanks for joining us. It’s been awesome. Eric, it was a pleasure.

ERIC HOCHBERGER: Thank you, Jenny.

JENNY GUY: All right, guys. See you Thursday. Be there or be square. Have a good day, guys.

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