It’s been a little over a year since Mediavine launched its first PSA campaign and in that time we’ve served roughly 11.9 billion PSA ad impressions, all to help some very worthy causes. We thought it was time for a review of what PSAs are, how they help both you as the publisher and the organizations we partner with and share some exciting new partnerships and technology that’s coming down the pipeline.
What are PSAs?
PSA stands for Public Service Announcement. In display advertising, these types of ads are served free of charge, and at Mediavine, they only serve when the ad placement has not sold through your regular auction.
We don’t and have never had a goal of 100% fill at Mediavine. Our reason is simple: Working towards 100% fill causes you to keep lowering the cost of an ad impression on your site, undervaluing your inventory in that way lowers the average CPM for your site and is basically a race to the bottom, where every ad impression you sell is devalued by that last elusive 1-10%.
When we run PSAs instead, we’re able to fill the space with messages that you and your audience find valuable, without compromising your auction floors.
How does running PSAs help me?
Before Google’s Core Web Vitals introduced the idea of Cumulative Layout Shift, Mediavine typically collapsed any ad space that didn’t sell to make the page simpler and prettier by leaving no large blank spaces. But this often caused elements of a webpage to move around during loading.
Now that Google has been more specific about their desire not to see items shift around on the page, Mediavine has introduced settings like Optimize Ads for CLS, a solution that creates a gray ad box anywhere a position is likely to be on page, reserving the space for an advertisement so that the page doesn’t shift around.
If you enable these options but aren’t running any PSAs, it’s likely that you’ll have empty gray boxes wherever an ad doesn’t sell.
You’ll pass CLS, and while it’s not a bad user experience, running PSAs for your favorite causes instead makes the experience more visually appealing, more dynamic and more interesting for readers.
What are my options?
With each of these, we work with the organization to decide messaging, campaign dates (if not evergreen) and to coordinate the creatives. When clicked, the PSA ads link to a landing page of the organization’s choosing, usually on their own domain.
We’re very excited to announce that as of April 27th, 2021, we are partnered with No Kid Hungry. Thanks to an introduction made by publisher (and Chicago Keynote!) Jocelyn Delk Adams of Grandbaby Cakes fame, we’ve been able to work directly with the NKH team to launch this option directly into your Dashboard. Right now we’ve got one evergreen campaign in the works, but we’ll have more from team NKH in the fall, so please watch this space!
Several PSA campaigns have been initiated by Mediavine and do not partner with or target other organizations specifically. Examples of these campaigns include our Covid-19 Awareness, We Stand With You and Pet Adoption campaigns, each of which work for worldwide audiences.
Instead of linking to an organization, each one of these campaigns links to a landing page on the Mediavine website. The landing pages link to outside resources vetted by the Mediavine Shine committee.
For our We Stand With You campaign, we worked with Black artists last year to make beautiful creatives. We’re excited to announce that as of today, there is also artwork by Asian-American artists and designers added to this campaign’s set of creatives.
Art by Ann Chen, Julia Kestner, and Rhianna Chan are now a default part of the WSWY campaign. You will also find links to their social media on our WSWY Resources page.
How do PSAs help organizations?
First and foremost, these PSAs provide awareness for the organization and particular goals they have. For example, last September we ran a special creative for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer because September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, with links back to special fundraisers they were participating in, which gave the organization a boost for their cause during this special time.
While awareness is definitely helpful, these campaigns are also able to share information on how to donate or how to participate in volunteering with each organization through PSAs. Operation Gratitude is a great example of this, running a letter-writing campaign with us not too long ago that resulted in readers signing up to write letters to first responders and service people overseas.
United Way’s 211 campaign was incredibly successful at bringing light to what 211 is and how calling 211 can help match resources to any family dealing with everything from food insecurity to mental health crises. In some cases, it might even be better to dial 211 instead of 911, which lowers stress on the emergency response teams while also matching callers with the people they need to get past the problems their family is currently facing.
We’re working all the time to bring more organizations on board with this program because we know that our publishers’ favorite causes are as varied as their website topics are.
What publishers need to do
The ad server is set up to give each PSA you’re opted into equitable distribution. That means if you’re opted into three different campaigns, each one of them will get equal distribution on your available ad impressions.
We think it’s wise to run a couple of different PSA campaigns alongside your programmatic ads to help your site have plenty of visual interest and to be sure you’re solving for CLS by filling in those gray boxes.
We know that many of you have not only your own chosen charities but also courses and services you’d like to advertise in these spaces. We’re working on the ability for you to do just that! Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.
As always, if you’ve got any questions, please let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions about your account. If you’ve got suggestions for organizations you’d like to see Mediavine work with, you’re welcome to reach out to email@example.com.
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