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The Painful Roller Coaster Story of Moving from Adthrive to Ezoic and What Happened to My Earnings

By Spencer Haws |

Well, Ezoic screwed up.

But, then Ezoic fixed it.

Today, I’m going to share the full story (without holding back the punches) of how Ezoic messed up one my site’s earnings for almost a year, but then how they fixed this issue and now my site is earning even more than before.

I’ll let you be the judge if jumping through the hoops with Ezoic is worth it or not.

This is a story that covers over a year and a half of earnings history, ad rate changes, and comparing Ezoic vs Adthrive earnings.  If you are ready for a good story that initially caused me some serious frustration, but has lead to higher earnings for my site, then read on.

Adthrive vs. Ezoic Earnings

So, a couple of years ago I purchased a “Mom Blog”.

The site had been around for about 10 years and was doing really well on Pinterest and earning a bulk of its money from display ad revenue.  The previous site owner was approved on and using Adthrive.

When we bought the site, we stayed on Adthrive for about a year and a half, but we decided, “Hey, let’s test a different network to see if we can earn even more!”

I’ve worked closely with Tyler Bishop, the CMO of Ezoic in the past, and he assured me that if we switched to Ezoic, he was confident that the site would earn more than it had on Adthrive.

I was hesitant.

The general theory in the blogging world is that because Adthrive requires a site to get higher traffic numbers than Mediavine or Ezoic, then it must pay out higher ad rates.

Tyler explained that because Ezoic uses AI to test ad placements, ad choices, and much more…that Ezoic over time would actually earn more money.

So, here’s where it gets interesting.

I asked Ezoic to guarantee via contract that Ezoic would pay out an equal or better RPM (ad rate) than our existing Ad Thrive earnings.  If Ezoic failed to pay out the higher ad rate, then Ezoic would be required to manually pay me out the difference.

It was a no-lose situation for me.

I could test out Ezoic and take the upside if it did indeed pay out higher earnings.  And if it didn’t, I was guaranteed by contract to be paid out an amount equal to what I would have earned had I stayed on Ezoic.

Ad Rate Changes When Switching to Ezoic

On Adthrive, the site was earning the below ad rates.  Please note that Adthrive displays earnings in terms of RPM or revenue per 1000 pageview.  Whereas, Ezoic displays earnings in terms of EPMV or revenue per 1000 sessions.

So, I’ve shown the original RPM and also EPMV for Adthrive before I moved the site in order to compare “apples to apples” (EPMV is always going to show higher earnings because pageviews is always greater than sessions).

Adthrive – 6/1/2019 to 09/05/2019 RPM
avg. $18.79
mobile 13.73
tablet 17.26
desk 31.69

 

Adthrive CONVERTED TO EPMV – 6/1/2019 to 09/05/2019 EPMV
avg. $20.57
Ezoic Revenue – 10/15/2019 to 12/31/20 EPMV
avg. 25.6
mobile 23.8
tablet 15.53
desk 32.98

However, the caveat here is that the time period shown for Ezoic is the 4th quarter, and the 4th quarter is always the higher earnings months of the year.

So, was Ezoic really earning me more than Adthrive would have?  It’s hard to tell, because Adthrive EPMV obviously would have increased as well in the 4th quarter.

Consulting the Ad Revenue Index

Fortunately, Ezoic has an Ad Revenue Index that allows you to see the historical ad revenue rates over the past several years.

So, I was able to compare what ad rates on average were comparing the 2 quarters.

I added the red line with my ROUGH ESTIMATE of what the average ad index was for the 3rd quarter (on Adthrive) vs. 4th quarter (on Ezoic).

The average ad index for the 3rd quarter of 2019 was 54.  The average ad index for the 4th quarter of 2019 was approximately 62.

So, did my Avg. EPMV go up 14.8% when I moved from Adthrive to Ezoic?

So, based on my math and my VERY rough estimates of ad revenue index, my ad earnings should have increased just 14.8% in the 4th quarter, but instead, it increased by 24.45% after moving to Ezoic. 

Or a 10% greater increase than staying on Adthrive.

Again, all of this is total conjecture and a lot of guesswork.

But that’s what I saw and you can see all my math if you want to do all your own calculations.

So, based on my findings I increased my ad earnings by 10% by moving to Ezoic.

Ezoic Earnings Tank

However, now the story gets ugly.

As soon as Q4 ended, my Ezoic EPMV tanked.  Yes, Q1 always takes a dip after Q4, but as I came to find out, my “dip” in earnings was MUCH more dramatic than it should have been.

I shot an email to Ezoic and basically said, “Hey, my earnings seemed to have dropped alot, what’s going on?”.  I got a response back that it was now Q1 and I would slowly start to see earnings increase again.

So, I waited.

And waited.

A few months went by and there was no real change.  I sent another email and got another fairly general response about ad rates should improve, turn on these ad options, make sure you have an ads.txt file, etc.

My EPMV was still terrible.

Yes, I should have been more on top of it, but this is one site out of many many projects I have going on.  So, I let an entire year go by before I really dug into it.

Let’s take a look at the damage that happened with my Ezoic earnings in 2020.

First, let’s reference the Ad Revenue Index.  Again, this is an index put together by Ezoic that essentially shows what the average ad rates are doing over time.  

This means we can see on average if ad earnings should be higher than last year, etc.

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This image shows that during the 4th Quarter of 2019, the APPROXIMATE index average was 62.  That number doesn’t really mean anything by itself.  But it allows up to compare apples to apples if ad rates were going up or down over time.

You can see from the image above that the average ad index moved up to approximately 76 in Q4 of 2020. 

In other words, ad earnings should have been about 22.5% HIGHER in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019.

Well, that most certainly did NOT happen in my case.

My average EPMV on Ezoic was significantly LESS in 2020 than it was in 2019.

Here’s an image that shows my actual Ezoic EPMV and what it should have been.

First, you can see that my actual Q4 earnings from 2019 were an average of $25.60.

Because the ad revenue indexed increased by 22.5% when comparing Q4 2019 to 2020, my average EPMV should have increased to $31.36 in Q4 2020.

Unfortunately, you can clearly see that was not the case.  I received no increase, instead, my average was a terrible $16.45.

The difference between those 2 red lines is painful to look at.

The Ezoic Problem and Solution That Led to Higher Earnings

As a result, I finally emailed Ezoic again and said something is really really wrong.  “Can you look into this for me?”

Well, the CMO (Tyler Bishop) finally got involved and did some deep-dive analysis and he found the issue!

The problem turned out to be that when I first moved over, they had put me on Ezoic Premium which offers higher ad rates and access to premium ad partners.  However, when they did this, it was a manual change that didn’t really show up in their normal systems.

I was a special case and I was not paying for premium like most Ezoic subscribers.

Then through some system or red tape error, my account got removed from Ezoic premium when the new year started when I shouldn’t have been removed.

Again, there was nothing on my account that would indicate that Ezoic Premium was turned on or off (and in fact I had no idea I was on Ezoic premium until Tyler did some digging).

As a result, my account was earning significantly less than it should have been for over a year.

I should also state that I don’t think this would ever happen to anyone else.  I was a special case where they brought me over and made an atypical guarantee and manually added me to Premium.

If you go through the normal Ezoic process, this would never happen.

But it did happen to me and I most certainly wanted to get my earnings back to where they should have been.

After a few emails and Ezoic discovering the underlying issue, they simply turned “Premium” back on in my account.

Check Out This Earnings Increase…

What happened when everything got fixed on the backend?

Well, fortunately, my earnings have jumped back up to where they should have been!  It’s now been almost 2 months since the Ezoic issue got resolved and you can see the dramatic change in my EPMV.

So, from January 1 to February 22nd, my Ezoic average EPMV was just $11.52.

Since February 23rd (when Premium got turned back on), my Ezoic average EPMV has been $22.76.  Nearly double.

To say the least, I’m extremely upset that my site was earning probably close to half what it should have been for over a year.

Yes, I should have been more diligent about following up with Ezoic about why my earnings tanked.

But Ezoic should have never let something like this happen in the first place.

As a way to make it up to me as much as possible, they are going to compensate me for lost site earnings. They are going to make a one-time payment to me to at least partially make up for the lost earnings over the past year.

I certainly appreciate the goodwill gesture that Ezoic is making.  But the experience does still leave a little bit of doubt in me if something like this won’t happen again.

After all, I STILL have no way to know if “premium” is turned on in this particular account or not.

Finally, I should reiterate, that this entire experience would never happen to anyone else.  I was a special case that they negotiated over with guarantees.  Then my site got lost in some red-tape mix-up or some manual override that no longer was a manual over-ride.

If you were a normal “premium” subscriber this would never happen.

However, this has been my experience and I wanted to share all the gritty details so you can make your own judgment call.

Update: Tyler Bishop (CMO of Ezoic) reached out to me after seeing this post and has now offered the same guarantee to anyone moving from either Adthrive or Mediavine to Ezoic.  He says people can fill out this form here and he will make the same guarantee that earnings will increase.

The End of the Ezoic Drama?

So, my site has been through quite a roller coaster over the last year and a half.  First, my earnings increased when I moved from Adthrive to Ezoic. Then they tanked.  Now, the earnings are higher than ever before.

In summary, I think this experience has shared some valuable insights.

Overall, I’m not trying to convince anyone to either lean towards Adthrive or Ezoic, or any other ad network.  I’m simply sharing the story of my experience of switching from Adthrive to Ezoic and all the “drama” that ensured over the past year and a half.

I wish all of us high ad rates.

And that there’s no more drama.




Blogging & Niche Websites

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of NichePursuits.com. After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding LinkWhisper.com, and co-founding MotionInvest.com. You can learn more about Spencer here.

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