Cringe No More: How Editorial Improves Ad Experience

Cringe No More: How Editorial Improves Ad Experience
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Product Marketing Lead Gavin Dunaway argues that editorial doesn’t need to be resigned to bad ad experiences—they can help build acceptable creative policies

Back in the day, it was “One simple trick to…” and “Get rid of belly fat!” gifs. Now it’s Richard Branson and Elon Musk hawking cryptocurrency schemes or sad Keanu Reeves delivering his last words (did you know he was sick?!?).

Editorial teams cringe when they see these scummy scam ads next to the content they pour their hearts and souls into. But ads pay the bills, right? You gotta keep the lights on somehow, even if it’s painful to look at.

Well, good ads do keep the lights on for a lot of publishers, but bad ads can be downright detrimental to user experience—and the overall business.

  1. Better ads = higher engagement. Recent research from The Media Trust found that session depth, or pageviews per user, increased and bounce rate decreased after a bad-ad blocker and other ad quality tools were implemented. That’s right—visitors were chowing down on more content, which is good for the revenue team too as those are more ad slots to serve. On top of that, the average price of an ad (eCPM) actually went up.
  2. Malvertisers evolve rapidly. You may have auto redirects under control now and not sweeping your audience away from your content, but bad actors are employing cloaking mechanisms to hide their malicious intent. If you’re not working with a first-rate malware desk keeping up with the latest trends, in the blink of an eye your visitors might be swamped in redirects.
  3. Bad ads fuel ransomware attacks. Personal data garnered from scam and ad-based phishing campaigns are sold on the dark web, where they become fuel for major ransomware campaigns. Nefarious types even trade access to devices infected with adware. Do you want to play a part in the next Colonial Pipeline or JBS Foods disaster?

Ads Ops and Editorial Team Up

Editorial teams don’t have to resign themselves to terrible ad experiences around their world-class content—especially when good ad experiences are better for business. Unfortunately, most ad/revenue operations teams only interact with editorial when they call up screaming, “Why is this awful ad showing up next to my beautiful content?!?” This is terribly reactive when these departments should be collaborating on a comprehensive acceptable creative policy.

Ad/revenue operations needs editorial’s input on what kind of ads are good or at least benign for user experience. Who knows better what appeals to and repels users than editorial? This goes beyond shutting down redirects—which according to the IAB, make up about 48% of all malvertising, meaning there’s plenty of other nasty stuff waiting to mess up your site.

You need to determine your stance on seedy clickbait and agree to your risk profile when it comes to higher-risk ad sources. Plus, you need to figure out what contentious ad content categories shouldn’t appear on the site. Of course you don’t want ads for sex toys popping up next to parenting articles, but what about inflammatory political messaging or marijuana ads (‘cause it’s legal in more and more places)?

Once the editorial and ad teams are aligned on an acceptable creative policy, you need an enforcer. With an ad quality tool like Media Filter by The Media Trust, a publisher can easily:

  • Stop malware and scam ads from hitting their sites
  • Ensure auto redirects don’t execute if delivered
  • Cut off access to high-risk ad sources with checkered histories
  • Block ads with problematic subject matter—including adult content, tobacco, gambling, and more
  • Put a halt to heavy ads slowing down your pageloads.

So stop cringing, and talk to your ad/revenue operations crew about how you can ensure your audience has good ad experiences. Not only will you be able to view your pages with pride, your bottom line will benefit.