Research: How Google Ad Exchange Performs in Your Niche?

Google Ad Exchange Performance

Google Ad Exchange (or Google AdX) is the largest ad exchange in the market and accounts for more than 50% of the programmatic ad revenue for U.S publishers. So, it’s obvious to any publishers to connect their supply to AdX demand and ensure ad impressions are auctioned off at the best possible eCPM. 

But even if you have been using AdX for a while, there’s no way to see if that’s the best eCPM you could get from the Exchange. There’s no industry benchmark that exists to help you identify the missed opportunities and optimize the setup further. 

The worst part is, it’s almost impossible to know where to even set the floors and what to expect from AdX — if you just got access to it. 

So, we decided to publish the industry’s first Google Ad Exchange eCPM data across different niches. Being a partner that handles a network of hundreds of publishers and media groups, we were able to pull the AdX eCPM data for billions of ad impressions from multiple geographies and verticals. 

Interpreting the data is pretty straightforward. Every vertical has a separate chart that shows the Google Ad Exchange eCPM for different geographies — US, UK, India, and Canada. 

You can just look at the data for your vertical and just focus on the geographies where the majority of your readers are from. Now that we have set the premise, let’s dive into the methodology and then what you’re here for — AdX eCPM. 

Methodology: We analyzed more than a billion ad impressions (~1.5 billion) from hundreds of domains spread across different verticals to come up with the graphs. Let’s take an example niche. Say ‘lifestyle’. We tracked and analyzed the AdX eCPM of the hundreds of millions of ad impressions from the sites in the lifestyle niche. 

We have categorized the publishers into niches based on the context of the site. For instance, if a site mostly covers ‘entertainment and movies’, we would put it under the ‘entertainment and movies’ bucket. And, we have aggregated the data and performed basic noise reduction to make the eCPMs more accurate.

As you know, geographies can significantly impact both the eCPM. So, we have further segmented the data based on the countries to help you derive an estimate. So, if you run a lifestyle site with the majority of traffic from the U.S, you should see the U.S. eCPM range of the lifestyle niche.

Google Ad Exchange eCPM


Let’s start with the most popular vertical — News. There’s a common assumption that ‘news’ content doesn’t attract higher eCPM as, say, tech sites. But apparently, it’s different if you’re a UK news site. 

Clearly, the UK, thanks to its geopolitical reasons, attracts eCPM that’s 3x more than that of the US or Canada.

Google AdX Performance in News Sites


Google AdX bids comparatively higher on the US lifestyle publishers. Canada and the UK site get around $0.5 – $0.6 eCPM which is approximately half of the US publishers. 

‘Ad viewability’ is one of the factors to look out for in lifestyle sites. Users tend to fast read or skim over the content rather than staying engaged for a long time. So, it’s worth investing in building a repeated user base so that buyers can easily identify your audience and bid higher. 

AdX eCPM in Lifestyle niche


While Gaming isn’t as established as other categories (eg: news), advertisers, especially programmatic buyers are continuing to increase their spend on gaming sites. Why? Increased audience attention span.

U.S. publishers command an eCPM of $1.25 and publishers with users from Canada and the UK are getting eCPM of $0.90 and $0.76 respectively.

AdX eCPM in Gaming niche

Movies & Entertainment

The pattern is repeated here again. Publishers covering Movies & Entertainment get more or less the same eCPM as the lifestyle publishers. It makes sense as there’s a huge overlap in both topics (context) and audience (users).

AdX eCPM in Movies and Entertainment niche


Parenting publishers focus on a specific context with a clear audience and they reap the benefit. In fact, parenting is the only niche where publishers — regardless of where their users are from — perform at their best.  

The U.K and Canadian publishers virtually show no difference in eCPMs from AdX. 

AdX eCPM in Parenting niche


No surprises here as well. The UK publishers seem to underperform a bit compared to the western market — due to the change in sports seasons and frequency of games. 

But if you have header bidding enabled, then there’s a lot of room for improvement here.

AdX eCPM in Sports niche

Travel and Tourism

U.S. publishers covering ‘Travel & Tourism’ command almost twice as much as the publishers from the U.K or Canada. Why? There are many reasons but the one worth noting is the spend towards travel & tourism. 

US consumers spend more than that their peers. While the pandemic restricted travel, many reports suggest that things are getting back to normal again.

AdX eCPM in Travel & Tourism Niche


Before we wrap up, we wanted to address the limitations of the study. 

  • Data is based on the dataset of 1.5 Bn+ impressions. 
  • Impressions aren’t equally distributed among the verticals. That is, one niche can have more impressions than another. In our case, ‘news’ can have more volume of impressions than ‘parenting’.
  • Our publishers tend to have a few million PVs per month. So, long-tail publishers might see different results from Google Ad Exchange.
  • It’s important to consider seasonality and spending factors in mind while analyzing the data. Especially with the pandemic, demand hasn’t been as normal as it typically is.

That’s it. Whether you’re just getting access to AdX or you’re looking for opportunities to improve its performance, hope you get some interesting insights to work with. Let us know how it goes in the comments.

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