Independent Journal Review Improves Site Performance by Tackling Ad Speed Issues

Independent Journal Review is a top 50 US website with over 35 million unique readers each month. Their readers rely on them to provide the latest political and cultural news in a fast, user-friendly environment.

A Need for Speed

The team at Independent Journal Review works tirelessly to cover the latest news in politics and culture. Their hard work has paid off: from 2012 to 2015, they grew from  2 million monthly visitors to over 35 million. Much of this growth can be attributed to their focus on developing high-quality content and great user experience.

In order to deliver great content quickly to their readers, Independent Journal Review takes precise measures to optimize site performance. This is no easy feat for a site that’s reliant on advertising to generate revenue, according to Katie Koenig, Independent Journal Review’s Director of Programmatic and Ad Operations.

“Ads can cause our readers a lot of grief because they can slow the page down. In-banner video ads that run in standard IAB units are especially problematic.”

— Katie Koenig, Independent Journal Review’s Director of Programmatic and Ad Operations

Auditing Slow Performers

To reduce site speed issues caused by ads, Independent Journal Review’s ad operations team attempted to block in-banner video ads from their site. Even with a block list in place, however, they noticed that in-banner video ads kept slipping through the cracks. Describing their previous strategy as “a game of whack-a-mole”, their team now uses PubNation to quickly determine the partner responsible for the in-banner video ad and help that partner shut the campaign down.

“Just last week, we had an in-banner video player hijack an ad unit on our page. Our internal team reported it to the right partner, who blocked the ad and said we were good to go. But we continued to see the in-banner video play on our site,” says Katie. “By using the additional crowd-sourced PubNation reports, we were able to pinpoint the other partner serving the ad and have them block it, too.”

In addition to flagging unwanted in-banner video ads, Independent Journal Review also uses PubNation to ensure that ad partners comply with their guidelines on the number of ad requests and file size of the creatives that are served.

“PubNation’s interface and reporting tools are a great benefit to us. They allow us to see how large the ad in question is and how well it performs compared to other ad complaints we get. That’s incredibly useful.”

— Liz Kelly, Independent Journal Review’s Programmatic & Ad Operations Specialist

Revenue and Readership

Losing readers due to ad-induced site performance issues has a long-term negative impact on revenue. This means that retaining readers requires more than just creating quality content.

“The importance of ad quality ultimately boils down to user experience. We want our users to have a seamless experience when coming to our site, and bad ads can leave a nasty taste in their mouth,” says Katie. “We don’t want our readers to turn away from our site because it is being slowed down by our ads.”

Fortunately, Independent Journal Review now has the tools necessary to keep their readers happy and their revenue growing.

“PubNation gives us everything that we need in a nice little, deliverable package!” says Liz.

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