What Medium-Sized Publishers Like Beliefnet Are Doing About Viewability

Beliefnet ViewabilityBeliefnet attracts a niche audience (about 5 million to 7 million uniques per month) of all faiths who come to read content about religion. But while its readers believe in a greater power, Beliefnet wasn’t always sure they had the same faith in ads.

Even though advertisers began to prioritize viewability, the publication, which fielded a small direct sales team along with a head of ad ops and an ad trafficker, had limited resources to redesign the site or manually optimize campaigns.

For a couple of years, Beliefnet had used a performance optimization tool from Maxifier to optimize direct-sold campaigns. The publisher pointed Maxifier toward its viewability problems.

Since Beliefnet used Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers, it could tie Maxifier’s measurement capabilities to Google Active View, which tracks viewability of served ads.

After using Maxifier to optimize direct-sold campaigns toward in-view rates coming out of the ad server, Beliefnet achieved a 38% increase in viewability in just one month.

“It definitely brings it above the [MRC] standard for the campaign,” said Peter Beznoska, director of ad operations and business development for Beliefnet.

That increase occurred even though Beliefnet had already taken other measures, like giving direct-sold campaigns above-the-fold placements. “For a small ad ops team like we have, it takes the job of what could be two to three people and brings it down to one system,” Beznoska said.

It also served as a stopgap as Beliefnet contemplates a more comprehensive redesign.

“As a publisher of our size, we can’t necessarily redesign our site every day, so using a tools like Maxifier to improve viewability without going through a massive redesign is extremely helpful to us,” Beznoska said.

Beliefnet touts its ability to achieve high viewability in sales pitches. “We let advertisers know we have a technology and it’s something we’re doing something proactively,” Beznoska said.

There’s still a manual component, which Beznoska likes. When he goes into the system, Maxifier will list off potential optimizations, which he can approve or reject.

Beliefnet is working on using that viewability data to inform site redesign and mobile optimization, as well as its overall content strategy. Using the viewability data, it identified 70 low-performing ad units.

Sometimes, poor ad viewability is related to the type of content on the page, or where the traffic is coming from.

“We have a variety of different content types, and it helps us hone in on how long they should be,” Beznoska said. For instance, he can tell if people are clicking through too fast or not scrolling on certain types of content, which can affect viewability.

Beliefnet may choose to pull back in investing in content that drives low-quality traffic, or rework content pages that inadvertently lower viewability, Beznoska said.

Beliefnet believes the way to succeed in a scale-focused digital world is by driving performance for advertisers. And one way to do that is through delivering viewable campaigns.

“You’re seeing in the industry now that the massive scale companies don’t always drive the best performance,” Beznoska said. “We think we’ve cultivated our audience pretty well, and this helps us feel more confident that we are providing a package of advertising above those [viewability] standards for premium clients.”

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