Key Points

  • Unified pricing rules are a great tool to maximize your yield.
  • Most publishers, and even ad monetization companies, are using basic strategies to manage unified pricing rules at best. A comprehensive price flooring strategy is key to success.
  • Playwire’s Proprietary Price Floor Controller is a completely AI-driven approach to managing price floors, and provides on average a 20% increase in revenue out of the box.

Price Floor Basics

Before jumping into the nitty gritty details of how to use them, let’s cover some of the basics of price floors.

Before jumping into the nitty gritty details of how to use them, let’s cover some of the basics of price floors.

What is a price floor?

In digital advertising, a price floor is a setting that defines the lowest fixed CPM rate that you are willing to accept for an ad impression. It will block the sale of impressions for any amount lower than the fixed value after reviewing bids from the open auction.

What is a unified pricing rule?

Unified pricing rules is the name used in Google Ad Manager for the tools used to manage price floors within their ecosystem.

Why Unified Pricing Rules are Important

Price floors essentially allow you to control the interplay between supply and demand. By introducing a lower limit to what CPM bids you’ll accept in certain situations, you can find the perfect balance between CPM and fill rate that maximizes your total take-home revenue.

Price floors have long been a tool used by established and mature yield operations teams in the ad tech industry. And Google’s Unified Pricing Rule tool is an incredibly powerful way to manage price floors.

You can make some pretty sophisticated rules allowing you to conditionally set price floors for a very large combination of different factors that might influence the value of a particular impression. Some of these include:

  • Inventory: Select which ad units are covered by the price rule.
  • Mobile Application: Choose to target a price rule by mobile environment (e.g. Apple App Store or Google Play Store).
  • Geography: Select geographic criteria for the price floor rule including country, city, state, zip code, etc.
  • Device Category: Choose which device categories are covered by the price rule with options like: desktop, smartphone, smart speaker, tablet, etc.
  • Browser: Choose which browsers are covered by the price rule.
  • Operating System: Choose which operating systems are covered by the price rule with options covering gaming, desktop, and mobile operating systems.  
  • Custom Targeting: Create a price rule using custom targeting using key values, audience segments, and more.
  • Inventory Type: Choose a category of inventory to be covered by the rule by selecting display, mobile app, or in-stream video and audio inventory types.
  • Video Position: Choose a specific video position for a price rule such as pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll, etc.
  • Inventory Format: Choose certain inventory formats to build a price rule around, such as banner, interstitial, native, and more.

This allows you to build highly custom floors for very specific situations. For instance, you could make a rule that applies to a specific ad unit, at a specific time of day, on a specific browser if you want.

What’s the catch? (Because there always is one!) You can only create and manage, at most, 200 of these rules at any given time. And, when you combine all the factors you can use to create rules, you’ll find that you have millions of different combinations you can create.

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Ad Yield Management Resource Center

Visit the Ad Yield Management Resource Center.

How Unified Pricing Rules Have Historically Been Managed

As mentioned, unified pricing rules are a staple of the yield operations function. As such, the level of sophistication used in managing these rules varies greatly with the level of maturity of that function within a publisher’s organization.

How Individual Publishers use Unified Pricing Rules

Typically, we’ve seen that publishers with little-to-no ad operations teams may not even touch unified pricing rules at all.

Larger publishers that have a dedicated ad operations team may be using them with varying levels of sophistication and success. Typically, publishers will create standard rules that they just leave in place (often using a very small percentage of even the 200 rules they are allowed).

More sophisticated teams will likely have an experimentation approach to unified pricing rules, having a set of 200 running at once. The team will test performance of different rules and swap in new ones to replace those that aren’t driving major differences in revenue.

In all cases, this is a very manual process, and one where it is very difficult to truly understand which rules drive the most changes in revenue.

Another important concern to note is that it is shockingly easy to make revenue-tanking mistakes when building out unified pricing rules. And each of your rules interplay with each other, so it is actually pretty easy to miss a change in one rule that breaks another.

One slight misstep in a combination of multiple rules and you could actually kill your revenue. This typically happens by accidentally setting a price floor so high that no bids will come in above it, thus driving CPMs right on down to zero.

Ad Management or Ad Monetization Companies

If you use an ad management partner or ad monetization solution, they will often manage unified pricing rules for you.

In most cases, services like this will have a small internal yield operations function focused on managing a set of unified pricing rules that apply across their entire network. Rarely are these rules managed on an individualized basis for each website, unless you are looking at a highly individualized and specialized consultancy.

In the rare case that a company like this is managing rules individually for each website, they’ll be using strategies like those defined in the “Individual Publishers” section above.

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Ad Yield Management Guide

Read the Guide: How to Build Your Target CPM and Price Floor Strategy

A New Approach to Unified Pricing Rules

For a while, we’ve been a huge proponent of taking a different approach, and have built quite a library of educational materials to help publishers take better advantage of unified pricing rules.

The most sophisticated teams will have an understanding of a comprehensive price floor strategy, rather than treating the rules as individual one-off rules. You can learn more about what we mean in this comprehensive guide to maintaining a price floor strategy.

Shifting from a “rule by rule” approach to a “comprehensive” strategy (and having a helpful tool to manage it) can make a huge difference in your total ad revenue.

How Playwire’s Price Floor Controller Maximizes Your Ad Revenue

Here at Playwire, we are a little more than excited to unveil a totally revolutionary approach to managing price floors. As part of our Revenue Intelligence {RI} suite of machine learning and AI algorithms, we’ve built the Price Floor Controller (PFC).

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Hear from Playwire CTO, Nick Branstator, about why we built the PFC and how it works!

We’ve built technology that layers over Google’s Unified Pricing rules and allows you to blow the old 200 rule limit out the window. Our AI algorithms learn your website (and take years worth of learning from across the entire network of Playwire sites) to define a dynamic price floor strategy uniquely for your website.

As we mentioned above, there are literally millions of different combinations of factors you can use to set a price rule for every situation that may exist. On average, Playwire’s Price Floor Controller calculates and maintains about 1.2M different price floor rules per website.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The PFC gathers data from across the Playwire network, and from your specific site, to inform decisions about which impressions, users, and conditions are the most valuable.
  2. Based on learning, the PFC automatically changes price floors based on thousands of combinations of key factors that influence the value of an impression.
  3. The PFC works in the background, dynamically changing price floors on every ad call to maximize yield.

This action-packed piece of technology has helped publishers in our network increase total ad revenue to the tune of 20% on average. And all from the same exact set of demand sources participating in the auction on the same inventory. Basically, they got 20% more out of the exact same set of inputs. Not bad if you ask us.

Want to see how the PFC can change your earnings? Apply now.

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