As traffic grows, so too should revenue. But for ChaCha, a Quantcast top 50 Q&A service that’s taking the market by storm, this wasn’t the case. That’s why ChaCha decided to reconsider its ad serving platform. A key lesson: don’t just look at the ad server… the provider’s ad exchange and yield optimization solutions are just as important. Impressed with the OpenX “stack” ChaCha started sending traffic to OpenX. The result: a 3x boost in yield that’s holding steady, even as volume continues to grow. To learn more, Paul Martecchini, Head of Marketing at OpenX, sat down with Shawn Schwegman, Chief Marketing Officer at ChaCha.
Paul Martecchini [PM]: Tell us about ChaCha – what do you offer visitors?
Shawn Schwegman [SS]: ChaCha gives free, real-time answers to any question both online at ChaCha.com and through mobile phones by either texting “ChaCha” (242-242) or using one of our mobile apps. With our unique “ask-a-smart-friend” format, we’ve become the leading answers service with more than 2 billion questions answered to date. All answers are provided in a fun, conversational format perfect for those in need of fast, free answers while on the go.
PM: I understand you’re growing quite quickly. Tell us about your traffic.
SS: We are indeed growing! Over the past six months we’ve experienced astronomical growth, going from 50 million page views per month to over 250 million. According to Quantcast, we’re a top 50 website, and we’re the number one mobile Q&A service.
The number of unique visitors just exploded; six months ago we had 18 million per month, today we top 38 million. Our page-per-visit rate doubled. It’s been quite a ride.
PM: What drew you to OpenX?
SS: When traffic was modest, we got pretty good CPMs. But once our volume increased significantly, our CPMs just plummeted. We were doing 4x more business, but we weren’t earning a dime more in revenue!
Also, we had issues with data transparency with our previous ad serving vendor, which meant we really couldn’t resolve the problem. So we decided to look at other vendors and quickly realized that in order to get our CPMs back up to where they should be, we needed to look at more than an ad server. We needed to look at the entire stack: the ad server, the ad exchange it connects to, and the SSP.
PM: How is the OpenX stack working out for ChaCha?
SS: Amazingly well. We started by sending 25% of our traffic OpenX. We didn’t think that OpenX could beat our previous ad server right out of the gate, but we hoped that with a little time, you could beat and eventually exceed the average CPM. But from day one, OpenX matched our previous ad server, and then over the next 60 days, OpenX was delivering CPMs that were 3x better.
PM: What do you attribute ChaCha’s gains to?
SS: OpenX is very focused on making us successful. Your commitment shows in our results. Our CPM rates have increased 3x and our fill rates are solid.
Also, OpenX provides us with a lot of data about our impressions – who buys them, the CPMs we receive – which helps us to get better prices. And the event-level feeds that OpenX provides lets us understand who values our impressions, who’s buying them, and what they’re willing to pay. These data features have transformed our business.
PM: How would you describe the level of support you receive from OpenX?
SS: OpenX has the best support of any software I’ve ever worked with. If we need to open a ticket, we can count on a very fast call back. Our OpenX account team really knows the products and can answer most questions. If they can’t, they loop in someone who can, usually while we’re still on the line. This is very different from our previous vendor where the support teams are essentially email or phone jockeys for the technical teams. We’d open a ticket, but it would take days for our support contact figure out who within the organization could help us. Most of the time our internal engineers would resolve our problem before we heard back from them.
PM: How do your ad ops team like using the OpenX Enterprise UI? Any feedback?
SS: My ad ops team tells me that with OpenX Enterprise they can traffic a campaign in a matter of minutes, as opposed to our previous ad server, which took them hours.
The less time the ad trafficking guys spend setting up a campaign, the more time they have to optimize and ensure we deliver the right level of performance. That leads to incremental sales. This is a huge difference.
PM: How would you describe the main benefits of OpenX for ChaCha?
SS: I’d boil it down to three key points. With OpenX we can:
- Monetize better – even at scale
- Optimize campaigns effectively
- Count on outstanding customer, technical, and strategic support
Check out our case study with ChaCha