Dotdash creates better user experiences and ad experiences
Case Study

Dotdash creates better user experiences and ad experiences

Dotdash (.dash), formerly known as About.com, has transformed from a general interest website to a vibrant collection of six stand-alone vertical brands including Verywell (health), The Spruce (home), The Balance (personal finance), Lifewire (tech), ThoughtCo (education), and TripSavvy (travel).

As one of the fastest-growing publishers with over 100 million monthly visitors, Dotdash focuses on ensuring the best user experience across all its sites. That’s why, along with rebranding their content, Dotdash restructured its advertising tech setup to make sure its ad experiences could perform as well as its sites. The company is preparing for a future where speed is critical, and is seeing success using Exchange Bidding.

Better experiences

Given its rebrand and conversion to six different branded sites, Dotdash wanted to focus on better user experiences.

“Users interact differently with our content depending on the site topic,” says Scott Mulqueen, VP of Programmatic at Dotdash. “They have different expectations and engage with the content in different ways. Because of this, we needed to update our ad experiences to match the performance of our new sites.”

So, in addition to unique ad formats created for their new brands, Dotdash redesigned its programmatic ad technology stack to improve the overall advertising experience.

Faster is better

Prior to the rebrand, Scott and his team were already streamlining their advertising technologies. A few years ago, the company had a typical setup: multiple partners put together in a complicated sequence of passbacks. This setup created page latency, ad latency, and a sub-optimal user experience. Dotdash spent a lot of time evaluating and testing partners to find what provided the best yield and speed performance.

 “We’ve gone through a lot of testing, especially with header bidding partners, and we’re looking to reduce the number of partners we work with to only those that meet our performance requirements. Through testing, we’ve found that faster is better and also turns into higher yield,” says Scott.

With better user experience driving the strategy, Dotdash prioritized solutions that delivered the best revenue possible with the least impact on users. This meant increasing site speed.

“The future of our ad technology stack is speed. We started to think about using server side technologies to manage our exchange partners, so when Exchange Bidding became available, we were immediately interested,” says Scott.

We want to get to a place where we can manage all our inventory directly inside our ad server, instead of on multiple platforms. We think Exchange Bidding is a great complement to Dynamic Allocation, and to our header bidding strategy.

Scott Mulqueen, VP of Programmatic, Dotdash

Exchange Bidding allows Dotdash to achieve this, and helps them put all their trusted exchange partners into real-time competition directly inside their ad server, Google Ad Manager. 

“Exchange Bidding has been great for our strategy. It was easy to set up, we created a few yield groups to give inventory access to each of our exchanges, and it managed all the backend connections to our exchange partners — all with no coding or additional line items to add and continuously update,” says Scott. “As we continue cleaning up our ad stack, solutions like this will also help us clean up clutter in our ad server as well.”

Simplifying for the future

As Dotdash continues to build momentum with users, its team continually looks for new ways to make more from every impression. “We want to get to a point where we only have Exchange Bidding and two or three other partners directly on our page to manage all our programmatic inventory,” notes Scott. “The more advertising code we can take off our sites, the faster we can deliver great user and ad experiences across our brands.”

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