Hearst Communications improves user experience with server-side solutions
Case Study

Hearst Communications improves user experience with server-side solutions

Evolving yield management

Hearst Communications oversees a portfolio of digital brands that reach over 180 million global visitors a month and 134 million social media followers. To keep this loyal audience engaged and to maximize revenue, Hearst invests heavily in advertising technology. This allows the company to ensure that ads enhance the user experience, while delivering the best-performing media for advertisers.

To help them achieve this, the company was quick to adopt of Google Exchange Bidding, which empowers them to maximize demand for their inventory with the least complexity, while maintaining the best user experience.

Hearst is no stranger to managing multiple programmatic partners. In 2013 they started testing multiple header bidding exchanges, and they quickly discovered issues with the new integrations. Some partners tried to drop as many as 20 advertising tags on every impression, slowing the load time of their sites. Others tried to manipulate their priority in the ad server, reducing the company’s overall yield. And yet some had slow-running technology that didn’t deliver results.

“We tested around 15 different header bidding solutions over the years,” says Scott Both, director of programmatic sales engineering, Hearst Communications. “Not all provided value. Not all were responsible with how they operated. And because of these issues, adding more partners didn’t always equal more revenue.”

The company’s engineers have developed their own custom site code to impose strict rules on header bidding partners, but they know they can do more. As they continue evolving their strategy to deliver better user experiences on mobile, video, and accelerated mobile pages, they’re turning to server-side solutions like Google Exchange Bidding to reach their goals.

Transitioning to server-side solutions

When Hearst wanted to move their yield management code off their site, Exchange Bidding checked all the boxes. The software allows Hearst to put multiple ad exchanges and supply-side platforms for every impression in a unified real-time auction. Instead of changing or adding code to its site, the company only had to change a few account settings. Then from within the Google Ad Manager UI, Hearst can control which exchanges have access to their inventory, and further see reporting on how each partner is performing. Plus, with unified billing, partners no longer need to negotiate how much they’re getting paid.

Our goal is to move as much of our advertising code off our sites as possible. Less code loading on the client side is better. Google Exchange Bidding is great because it helps us move in that direction. It’s simple to set up and works with our existing Google Ad Manager tags.

Scott Both, Director of Programmatic Sales Engineering, Hearst Communications

Delivering better, faster yields

As Hearst looks to the horizon, they know they need to optimize for speed. With an increased focus on creating accelerated mobile pages with mobile-first and video content, they know there’s a need to evolve. To achieve this, Hearst is pushing their existing partners to move to server-side solutions.

Scott expects a shift in the near future: “Fast forward to the end of the year, and I see us shifting to two or three client-side partners who are also server-side mediators, with much less code on our site. We’re happy with Google Exchange Bidding and excited about its future potential to manage yield.”

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