Online Ad Optimization: YieldBuild Explains Itself - Paul Edmondson Video Interview
Online ad optimization is the science of identifying on the basis of statistical data the best performing ads / ad network providers as well as the best performing ad position, layout, color and font style on your web pages in order to optimize online advertising revenue.
Paul Edmondson, Co-Founder and CEO of YieldBuild, an online web service designed to "take the guesswork out of ad formatting", has kindly agreed to have a good conversation with me to understand better how this optimization service differs from already established online marketing services that focus specifically on real-time ad network optimization (such as Pubmatic and the Rubicon Project).
Paul was in San Francisco and I was in Rome, when, a few days ago, I recorded this interesting video conversation.
Below is the complete recording and a full English text transcript of my conversation with Paul on internet marketing and online ad optimization. Check it out:
Interview With Paul Edmondson - CEO and Founder of YieldBuild
Full English text transcript
I don't know if my Italian pronunciation is the best one, but the service is, to my eyes, really interesting because, at least in my superficial knowledge (I haven't signed up yet), just like PubMatic or the Rubicon Project, this is supposed to be a service that allows you to optimize different ad networks and make the best of money, while not fixing yourself with just one advertising partner.
From what I understand, Yieldbuild allows you to test out a number of things and in real time you can select for you what is the best solution that you should adopt. But let's find out from one of the fathers of Yieldbuild, Paul! How are you doing in San Francisco today?
Paul Edmondson: Doing very well, thanks for having us Robin.
What is Yieldbuild?
Robin Good: You're very welcome. Thank you for reaching out and asking to have a conversation. That's only what it takes indeed. Why don't you introduce briefly yourself and Yieldbuild. What is Yieldbuild, from your take, in a short one, and what do you do over there?
Paul Edmondson: Sounds good. You got it right, I'm one of three founders of Yieldbuild and what we really set out to do is to help publishers make more money and that's about helping them manage the monetization on their website through the various ad networks they choose.
To start, Yieldbuild it's really about text ad optimization and what that means is we help publishers to pick out the right combination of elements. For example, let's say you are a Google AdSense publisher. You wanna know: "should my background be white, should it be blue, should it be gray, should it have borders, what should font color be, what should the link color be..."
So what Yielbuild brings in is a set of heuristics that figures out, tests algorithmically, to find you the best combination of ads. Then after on that site it will also do your ad network management.
Easier Ads On Your Site
Robin Good: Good. I was not completely on-track, actually quite off-track and that is great that I didn't know correctly what you're doing because I'm much more curios now.
While you do have some of the ad optimization facilities, your key focus as is about understanding what is the best combination of components in a text ad to make it work, is that correct?
Paul Edmondson: Yeah, I think that's a great way of summarizing it.
What we do is really specialize in the placement. There's the placement and the formatting of those ad. Think about your page and how a publisher may lay out the ads on it. For example, they may put a 720x90 at the top of the page, a 300x250 in the sidebar, maybe another 300x250 in the content footer ad, maybe another ad on the other side.
We'll find the best combination of the formatting attributes combined with the placement. Then, once we get a real good understanding of that, then we go into the ad network management.
A Solution For Publishers
Robin Good: Let me understand. This service is more targeted to an advertiser, who wants to understand how to best package his punch to an ad, or is it for a publisher to optimize the delivery and click-through of the ads he is carrying from his inventory?
Paul Edmondson: That's a great question.
It's a publisher solution.
It's a publisher solution and what we do is we help them tune their ads for the best response.
Robin Good: In this respect there are similarities or overlaps with the options offered by apparently similar services like PubMatic, the Rubicon Project or even some of the Google's own tools that have been coming out in the last few months. I guess I'm thinking specifically of the Site Optimizer. What do you say?
Paul Edmondson: Yeah, first technical problematic at PubMatic and Rubicon is that I can't speak for too much for those sites and those services. But I would say that what Yieldbuild does is it optimizes your entire ad layout of ads. It's aware of all the different ads that you have in your page. It'll do the formatting and the ad network optimization.
Our best understanding of Rubicon and PubMatic today is that they really focus on the ad network management behind one given spot.
We try to think about your page holistically and all the different ads that you have on your page and how they work as a ecosystem of ads for the publisher, so all the different rules that go behind their networks, all those types of things to give you the best monetization experience as a publisher.
The great question about the Site Optimizer for Google. One of the things that's really interesting about the Site Optimizer. It's built on multi-variant type testing. Let's say for example you have a landing page and you need to figure out does the "buy now" button here work better than "save 15%". Something like that. And what it does, it requires the publisher, requires the web site operator to go in it to find those tasks and set out those pages.
Yieldbuild is quite a bit different. In the sense that it goes in and sets up all the tasks algorithmically. It examines your site, figures out things that are about it and then it uses our optimization system to do all of that automatically. So no user setup for all the different tasks.
Placement Does Matter
Robin Good: That's very cool indeed. And that's something that had been bothering me about the Google Site Optimizer, so you're right on the spot in thinking a way that, even if I only read about it, it made sense and motivated me to try it out. And I'm indeed motivated to go after you and your service.
I'm a Premium AdSense partner, I use AdSense as my main resource of income for now. I'm opening new business lines, but as of now it remains my main one.
I have recently signed up with a major advertising network in the US and the issue of not only optimizing the different solutions but make them live together is part of our daily work. I mean, you just can't do it all by yourself. Secondly, I've even a person dedicated on a daily task of testing AdSense.
The idea that this AdSense testing time could be saved and put to use in other direction, while some software magically could think as well as he does and develop all the possibilities that we're trying out, is definitely interesting. I understand this is not Disneyland and the software can only do so much.
I suppose that if we contribute our help in defining where we wanna try out things, I'm now imagining your tool displaying the ads with different colors, different fonts and styles until it finds a better click-through and then stays on that set of options that it has found. Is that how he dynamically learns about it?
Paul Edmondson: Yeah, I think one of the interesting things that you talked about:
First, when you set up a site to get tested by AdSense it requires you to put in a piece of ad code in the page and then to continually move it around to find the different placements that work best for you.
But, with our system is you can put all the snippets of code in the page that you wanna possibly testing an ad location for. For example, let's say you only want to show two ads at one time. You can put three or even five, or six zones in your page and then YieldBuild will look at those combinations of placements and do the best. Then it will do all that formatting placement, bold, all the different text options that you have for the given ad networks.
A Worthy Dish
Robin Good: Wow, well you know what, this is really exciting. I don't know if to trust you or not but I gotta go try it out!
In your words this is just godsend for a publisher. I'm glad I reached you without having tried the service, because I got the opportunity of you really opening up for me the idea of what the service is.
It looks like you said very clearly and we're gonna find out now that is clearly different from your competitors in some specific ways which are not insignificant.
Why waste more of your precious time and possibly sliding to the hyping part when you've just given the best facts and then what I'm gonna do now it's just go out and try it.
You know what? I think that the best video conversations are the ones that are like precious dishes at restaurants. They bring you this big dish with a small little thing on it and some fancy food decoration. You eat it and it feels like: "God, where's the rest man? This is gonna cost me 35 bucks and there was nothing here!" But you know you're not gonna forget that dish in that restaurant.
I think we got some jewels from you and I just wanna thank you. I don't wanna go forward with more, I wanna go sign up and try it!
Paul Edmondson: Great! Hey Robin, thank you so much for having us. It was a lot of fun being out here.
Robin Good: Alright, have a great day in San Francisco and I'll talk to you right after I try it!
Paul Edmondson: You too, take care!
Robin Good: Ciao!
Originally shot and recorded by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia and first published on September 4th 2008 as "Online Ad Optimization: YieldBuild Explains Itself - Paul Edmondson Video Interview"
About Paul Edmondson
Paul Edmondson is one of co-founders and CEO at YieldBuild. He held group management positions at MSN Entertainment over product management, quality management, operations, and business management. He also worked for MongoMusic and Hewlett-Packard after graduating from California Polytechnic University.
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