Publishers frequently encounter a dangerous proposition, it usually comes over email and sounds like this:
“Hello, I work for so-and-so company. We think you have great content and would be a great fit for our advertisers. We have the best CPMs in the universe. If you’re interested in a partnership, let us know”
Well, as a publisher, that sounds good. They’ve got the best CPMs! What’s the harm in trying? So you reply:
“Yes, we’re interested. What kind of CPM and fill rate do you offer?”
And then the advertiser replies:
“Well, it all depends on our buyers and market conditions and we’ll just send you a tag and set a CPM floor. If we don’t have an impression, we’ll fire a passback”
Maybe they have a high fill rate and a good CPM and it works out great. However, very often the fill rate is low. You’re burning good impressions on these guys. What makes a good advertiser anyway?
How long after the end of the month will you get paid? Anything from Net-30 to Net-75 is common. Net-75 means you don’t get paid for 75 days. So if you earned $50 on January 1st, you won’t see a dime until the middle of April! This is standard practice, so don’t fret too much. In some situations, payment terms are negotiable and shorter terms are better for the publisher. With longer payment terms, you face a higher risk that the company goes bankrupt in the meantime. It’s not common, but it happens. Make sure you know how you’re getting paid (paypal, check, bank deposit) and when you’re getting paid. Also, make sure you know whether you will be paid automatically, or whether you will need to send an invoice each month
Editable Block List
It’s incredibly useful to instantly block inappropriate ads through a web interface instead of sending an email to customer service. Lack of a self-service block list hurts worse on the weekend. Unfortunately, this feature is pretty rare.
This should go without saying. Of course you need good reporting, but what does that mean exactly? First, it means there is a web interface! Shockingly, in 2015, there are still advertisers who only send monthly email reports. It’s almost unbelievable. Second, it means the numbers are accurate. Sometimes advertisers report gross revenue instead of net revenue. If the advertiser takes a 15% service fee, this should be reflected in the reporting. More simply, the numbers in the reports should match the amount you get paid. Third, reporting should show total performance and individual ad unit performance. The more granularity, the better! We have a LOT more to say about reporting systems in other articles.
Responsive Customer Service
This too should go without saying. You should be able to reach an account representative by email during normal working hours and get a reply.
Does the advertiser share your concerns for ad quality? Can they block certain advertisers if necessary? Do they allow auto-play video and audio? Do they auto-refresh too quickly?
Can you create your own tags in the web interface? This is an incredibly useful feature. Often, advertisers will send you a single tag for each size. This works, but it makes optimization difficult. You really want your tags to match your ad units 1:1 to get a true picture of performance. You’d don’t want to be emailing support when you could be doing this through a web interface.
Do they make deals for a fixed CPM and 100% fill? This is a deal you want to take all day long. Often these deals will be targeted US-Desktop, that’s fine, you still want it. More about this in another article.