Case Study

Chive Media Group

Increased ad revenue, better page performance,

and clearer ad auction insights through a custom implementation of Header Bidding.

Header bidding, a popular method of auctioning ad space on high-traffic websites, and its ROI is highly dependent on the quality of implementation. XWP partnered with Chive Media Group (previously Resignation Media) to find and implement a method of realizing and optimizing the revenue upside of header bidding while improving overall page performance and user engagement.

Services Provided

  • Platform Audit
  • Ad Network Consultation
  • Plugin & Theme Development

The Problem

Header bidding is a method for auctioning ad space on a web page within the <head> section of the page itself. The method is popular amongst large publishers as it exposes the ad space to numerous bidders, increasing competition for the space and driving up revenue.

Poorly implemented header bidding can introduce a large number of render blocking resources, meaning until the auction is complete, page visitors cannot view the page content they have come to see. In a world where a 1-second delay increases page abandonment by 7%, every second literally counts. Time is money! Additionally, different header bidding solutions are layered with nuances, meaning just “picking one off the shelf” rarely guarantees a business will realize optimum ROI.

Unpacking such a complex revenue focused project is the kind of work that highlights the talent we have on the team. Seeing the ROI for the client really validates our efforts and inspires us to continue this kind of work.

Kaspars Dambis, Project Architect, Principal Engineer @XWP

The Solution

Working with the Javascript library Prebid, we set up header bidding in a way where the bids were received asynchronously with page load so that page visitors receive the content immediately and the ads are introduced to the page once the bidding is finalized. The content of importance to the page visitor is prioritized, improving their user experience, with the auction effectively occurring in the background where it doesn’t impact the page performance.

To help Chive Media Group realize optimum ROI, the implementation involved facilitating a combined auction from multiple providers (OpenX Bidder, RTK, Sortable, and Prebid.js), set up for parallel testing to objectively identify the best performing solution.

We created a custom ad manager in the WordPress admin that provides control over all ad units on the page, including granular control over bidders that are enabled for each ad slot. This provides Ad Ops with the flexibility to configure ad setup without pushing a single line of code. It also allows setting bidding timeout and bidder priority for Prebid.js, as well as advanced features like event-based ad refresh and interval-based refresh for sticky ad units.

Delivering a complex Javascript solution, while increasing page performance, while improving ad revenue performance, is about as good as it gets.

Josiah Wold, Project Account Manager @XWP Alumni

The Impact

This optimized implementation of header bidding was able to bring significant reduction to the page load speed with an overall significant improvement in page performance. Page content was delivered to site visitors quickly and the optimized bidding process was allowed to run independently in the background. Ad managers were provided with an in-WordPress user interface for controlling the parameters, improving visibility and efficiency around management.

The post-project report from the client was that they’d seen a ~15% positive impact on eCPM, and a significant improvement in visitors engagement because of page performance. The increased visibility that Prebid brought to the bidding process helped their team better understand and evaluate the selection and application of the various bidding adapters.

Key Takeaways

  • Ad Revenue – ~15% positive impact on eCPM
  • Page Performance – Positive impact on overall page load time
  • Ad Inventory – Increased transparency with ad partners. Insight on bidding behavior and latency patterns.

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