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Ad Networks and Low Take Rates

what passback percentage have others seen for big ad networks



4:16 pm on Oct 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I work for a website that sees on average about 30 million page views every month. We have been monetizing our pages with some success by utilizing some ad networks including Context Web, Intercept Interactive, Blue Lithium - among others. One thing that we've noticed, however, is that the take rate for the impressions we're sending them can at times be horribly low (20-30%) and even in good months around 50-55%. What can others tell me about what kind of a take rate your networks have given you on the impressions you're sending them? What percent of your impressions do they passback to you? Does anyone know what the industry average is for percent of passback impressions?


2:16 am on Oct 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I don't quite understand all the terminology used in the post but one thing to consider is that many times individual site buys don't work so well for companies.

The ad networks use various behavioral targeting methods. When advertisers make a buy through a network they may want to target people who have been to the advertisers site in the recent past but not purchased before.

The advertiser may sell tires and have ads showing up on a recipe site because the consumer has been to the tire site in the past but then ventures off to the recipe site.

The value lies in the targeting and not the inventory on the specific website in this case. The network can charge a higher CPM because of the targeting. The reporting also counts "view through" conversions. A media program may look like a terrible investment if only click-through sales are attributed to it, however if everyone who merely sees (or just gets cookied because they loaded a page with a banner at the foot of the page they didn't even see) a banner and buys is credited back to the buy, the ROI looks a lot better to the advertiser and they are willing to pay more if they buy into the "view through" conversion model.

Moral of the story - if the payout % seems low, it may be as a percentage of what the network takes in but their targeting and tracking add-ons probably enable them to command a higher CPM which means that whatever % they pay out may not be so bad as compared to selling directly to advertisers unless it is a really focused site.


12:57 pm on Oct 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

As you mention, we are working with ad networks that do the behavioral targeting, and that seems to work fine. But what I was saying was that of 1 million impressions we send to ad network A for them to serve ads to, they're only serving ads on 20-40% of those impressions. They send the rest of the impressions back to us in a "passback" ad tag, which we can then serve whatever we want to (whether it is a default ad, another network, etc).

So basically i'm just wondering what other people are seeing as far as ad networks, and what their fill rate is on the impressions you're giving them. Are they serving all of the impressions that you give them? or are they serving a large number of default ads and/or passback ad tags?


12:29 am on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

In regards to ContextWeb...ADSDAQ was awesome for me for about a week or two with 40-50% fill rates at high CPMs north of $3. Sometimes as nice as $6-7.

Then it basically died on me, fill rate got below 10% even down at a $2 AskPrice. So, I'm trying PubMatic now.


12:57 pm on Nov 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

thanks for your response. I guess maybe we're not doing as bad as i might have thought. We're getting a fill rate of anywhere from 40-50% from Context Web, at a $3 CPM. From your experience it seems that you may not have even been doing that good even.

I'm beginning to think that a 30-50% fill rate with a lot of these networks is to be expected - especially on a website like ours with a high number of page views per unique user. (i think a lot of the users are being capped by a cookie on the network side - causing them to serve a large number of default and passback ads, whereas a site with a lower number of page views per unique may be seeing a better fill rate.

Anyone else out there have feedback on fill rates?


1:55 pm on Nov 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It can range anywhere from $1 - $20 for behavioral targeting. As far as Contextweb, I cannot say. $6 - $7 CPMs for an upstart service (ADSDAQ) is unheard of. They probably bumped up the rates by inflating them or lowering their commission percentage initially. They have to compete against Y!, Google, and Microsoft now. Chances are slim they can compete.

In terms of the percentage, this can really range from as low as a few percent to as high as 100%. It really depends on how much inventory they have of yours they have sold. The real way to work this is to have a good default strategy for your ad network chain. Highest to lowest and stay away from the cookie cutter networks. The last tier (dead bottom) should earn you between .20 - .40 for mostly US traffic. This may be 5 levels down, but at least you get something. If that is not acceptable, then you can always send it back to run a site promotion or something.


1:43 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

our site has almost 100% U.S. traffic, but we're still seeing a take rate hardly ever above 50%. Could this be because of what i mentioned, our site's high number of page views per unique user? What other factors do you think we need to take into account?

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