StudyBreak Media Balances User Experience with Revenue Optimization

StudyBreak Media properties reach over 85% of students in the U.S. Collecting user feedback on ads through PubNation helps them maintain a good user experience on their sites.

Creating A Good User Experience in the Age of Ad Blockers

As a leader in the online education and reference space, user satisfaction is an integral component to StudyBreak Media’s success. Preventing offensive or intrusive ads from appearing on their sites is an important way for them to keep users happy. “When a bad ad slips through our block list, the user often thinks the ad is something we intentionally selected to run on our site,” says StudyBreak Media’s director of growth and yield, Emry Downinghall. “It creates a very poor user experience and violates user trust.”

StudyBreak Media emphasizes that maximizing revenue and displaying high-quality ads shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, especially as frustrated internet users enable ad blockers to get around intrusive ads.

“We need to make sure we’re balancing yield with user experience so we can retain and grow our audience.”

— Emry Downinghall, General Manager

Catching Bad Ads in the Wild

To ensure that their ads don’t compromise user experience, the StudyBreak Media team started a tradition of spending 30 minutes each Thursday looking for bad ads on their sites — a process they refer to as Ad Testing Thursdays, or “A.T.T."

‍StudyBreak Media enforces strict ad guidelines to prevent bad ads from hurting user experience on their properties.

Still, time limitations and the number of ads that appeared on their sites made it impossible to monitor everything. They looked to their users to notify them when a problem occurred, but that solution wasn’t without pitfalls. “Even in situations where a user wrote in to us about an ad, the lack of information about the ad made it very difficult to track it down and determine who was responsible for serving it,” says Emry.

Giving Users a Voice

When StudyBreak Media implemented PubNation, they immediately saw a difference: users began to submit complaints via PubNation directly to the StudyBreak Media team, providing greater insight into the problematic ads appearing across their sites. “Giving users the option to report a bad ad lets them know we truly care about their experience on our properties and want to make sure the ads seen are within our serving guidelines,” says Emry.

More importantly, the StudyBreak team no longer has to hunt down ads “in the wild” when a user complains.

“Previously, we'd find ourselves scrolling through the inspect element feature on a browser, digging through lines of code in a maze of ad partners and JavaScript. Using PubNation, we now have reports that provide us the specific partner, ad size, and actual ad call associated with the bad ad,” says Emry.

Resolving Problems

Using PubNation’s analytics UI, StudyBreak Media recently noticed a spike in user complaints. “We discovered an ad that was overlapping with the content on one of our pages. This wasn’t occurring in testing, so we weren’t able to catch the issue before going live,” says Emry. They paused the campaign, addressed the issue with the responsible ad partner, and saw an immediate drop in user complaints.

“PubNation makes resolving these issues much easier,” says Emry.

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