This is an ongoing review of Ezoic as I use it to varying degrees across my niche sites over the years. You’ll see this starts with a series of updates so you get an idea of how Ezoic has performed for me over time.
Ezoic Review Summary
- Reporting Data
- Customer Service/Support
- Flexibility (i.e. User Control over Sites)
The hardest criterion to rate is effectiveness. By effectiveness I'm referring to Ezoic's ability to improve your site's performance (increase revenue and/or improve user experience). Ezoic has improved performance for over 7,300 sites, some with really impressive revenue increases. Therefore, I rate them highly. However, if they don't improve your site's performance, obviously it's not good.
I'm currently using Ezoic. This is my second go-around with the service. I decided to use them again because they're completely revamped their offerings. Now I have far more control over site design and ad placement - yet enjoy all of their benefits (see below).
Overall, Ezoic is worth trying. If it doesn't help your site, stop the service. If it does help, it could put a lot of dollars into your pocket.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2017:
Ezoic revenue is incredible in 2017. They’ve added more ad networks, function perfectly with SSL certificate on the site and overall my earnings per 1,000 visitors (EPMV) just keeps on getting better and better. Check it out:
In December 2016 I split test Ezoic against my own AdSense/Media.net configuration. After 2 to 3 weeks, Ezoic was earning quite a bit more and so I now have Ezoic running 100% on all niche sites. It’s so good, I’ve added Ezoic ads to FatStacksBlog.com.
Below are past updates and then my main review of how this ad testing platform works.
END OF FEBRUARY 1/17 UPDATE
UPDATE MONDAY FEB 1/16:
I’m using Ezoic again. New features are a game-changer for website publishers using display ads (including AdSense). I’m talking huge. Early results are great.
New Features in a nutshell (this is huge): You can run 5 Ezoic ads PLUS ads from other ad networks. Before when I used Ezoic it was just 5 Ezoic ads and nothing else. Now I’m using 5 Ezoic ads plus Media.net, Criteo, GumGum and Altitude Video (I have long pages on my sites). It’s a win/win. You gotta try it here.
UPDATE FEB. 4/16:
Ezoic revenue has now surpassed revenue from just AdSense ads (it took about 1 week). I’ve now set Ezoic to display 100% so it’s no longer split testing with my AdSense ads. FYI, I’m only using the Ezoic Ad Tester which lets me use my site’s design. I simply place ad placeholders throughout my site in locations I know ads tend to perform well.
UPDATE FEB. 8/16:
Ezoic revenue and EPMV (earnings per 1,000 visitors) continues to climb. I don’t expect EPMV to climb much more. I’ll be very happy if it remained at this level indefinitely.
Here’s the updated screenshots through Feb. 7/16:
A few things to note about the screenshots above:
1. On Feb 4, 2016 I stopped split testing Ezoic against my AdSense ads. This obviously resulted in Ezoic revenue growth.
2. On Feb 5, 2016 I noticed I had the optimization goal at only 70% revenue. This was an oversight. On Feb. 5/16 I changed revenue optimization to 100%. I suspect this accounts for a little of the dramatic revenue and EPMV increase starting Feb 5, 2016.
3. The more important graph above is the EPMV graph, which has grown decently since starting with Ezoic. I don’t expect it to grow much more. I believe it’s pretty well optimized at this point, which is pretty cool since I haven’t been running Ezoic longer than 2 weeks. But who knows, maybe EPMV will go up. Realistically, EPMV will fluctuate since display ad revenue per 1,000 visitors tends to fluctuate over the course of a year.
END FEB. 8/16 UPDATE.
This entire review is thoroughly updated – now includes exactly how I configure Ezoic for my sites.
I’ve logged a lot of hours testing ads on my websites.
Table of Contents
- Early Ezoic Results (Earnings Screenshot)
- What is Ezoic?
- How to create Ezoic ads
- But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
- What Does Ezoic Test Against?
- Ezoic Benefits
- Ezoic Settings
- Other Ezoic Offerings
- Ezoic FAQ
- My Ezoic Settings
- Ezoic Ad Colors Testing
- Ezoic Reporting Options
- Is Ezoic Good?
There’s so much to test; the variations are endless. You can test the following:
- Ad design (color, font, borders, backgrounds)
- Ad placement
- Ad sizes
To make it more complicated, you can test all of the above on desktop, mobile and tablets.
It makes me tired just thinking about it.
This is where Ezoic comes in.
Ezoic tests all of the above automatically. Over time the ad testing software tests thousands of ad variations and narrows down what works best for your site.
Early Ezoic Results (Earnings Screenshot)
To date I’m testing Ezoic against AdSense ads in my account to see if Ezoic will match or exceed current revenue. As of Sunday, Feb. 1/2016, which is 3 days into testing, Ezoic matched revenue I earned with my own AdSense ads. That’s quite good given Ezoic takes a few weeks to optimize.
Here’s a screenshot of Ezoic revenue:
A few things to note about the above Ezoic earnings screenshot:
- That’s only Ezoic revenue. It does not include revenue from my AdSense ads (which I’m split testing against Ezoic ads), Media.net, Criteo and GumGum ads. For the first several weeks, I want to see how Ezoic measures up against my AdSense ads.
- I blocked out visit volume and EPMV (earnings per thousand visitors) pursuant to Google Ads requirements that this data is not permitted to be revealed.
- This is still early testing, but so far it looks very, very good.
- With the new Ezoic platform (i.e. Ad Tester), I’m able to use my site’s design instead of Ezoic templates.
- With the new Ezoic platform, I’m able to manually place Ezoic ad tags instead of letting the Ezoic system place ads. Please keep in mind I’m very familiar with where ads will perform well so I chose to manually place Ezoic ads. If you are new to display ads and have no idea where ads will do well, it may be a good idea to let Ezoic insert ads in additional places. You can do this by setting the following option to “on”:
What is Ezoic?
Ezoic is one of a few AdSense certified partners that offers an ad testing and optimization software platform. It was founded by Dwayne Lafleur and John Cole. It’s self-directed, which means testing and optimization is done via software, not manual implementation. That said, the customer service and support is excellent.
On the date this Ezoic review was published, Ezoic reports its system has handled 214,865,798 website visitors (last month alone), 7,380 improved websites based on an average 140% increase in revenue and average 41% user experience improvement (source). That’s impressive.
FYI, the Ezoic founders are also serious website publishers. They have some websites they own that gets some serious traffic so they know firsthand what it’s like to be a website publisher monetizing with ads.
Ezoic has 2 offerings. They are:
1. Ezoic Full Version (Using Ezoic Templates)
Ezoic Full (now called Ezoic Layout Tester) is their original service. It’s now implemented by using the Ezoic Layout Tester app, which is set up by turning on the following app in Ezoic (note, I do NOT have this installed because I prefer using my own site design):
This is the service I started with and used for about 3 months starting April 2015. It’s the fully automated ad optimization software. The software will use its own design templates and put ads in literally thousands of configurations working hard (can software work hard?) to optimize your goal (see “But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here” below about optimization goals).
Over time, Ezoic Full will filter out design templates and ad configurations displaying more and more that best meet your optimization goals. Eventually you’ll reach peak performance (but the software continues testing beyond that as new designs are rolled as well as new ad formats).
With Ezoic Full you don’t need to do anything except open an account and set up your website with the service. After that the software does its thing without intervention from you. Yes, there are some settings you should go through, but that takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Ezoic Ad Tester
This is the version of Ezoic I’m currently using. Here’s a screenshot (you install it with 2 clicks – very easy):
The Ezoic Ad Tester enables ad optimization but gives you more control.
First of all, you can use your own site’s design. You don’t need to use Ezoic’s templates.
Second, you manually insert ad tags into your site. You can place many ad tags where you’d like to test ad performance. Ezoic will only display 5 per page (or fewer is choose to display fewer ads). Over time, Ezoic Lite will test and discover the optimal ad configuration based on the ad locations you specify.
What if you want to keep your site’s design, but let Ezoic test ad placements extensively?
You can do this too. I actually do this for one of my sites (the one I purchased recently). I’m doing this because I’m not sure where the best ad placements are. You can do this by turning on the option “Let Ad Tester automatically test additional ad locations” in the Ad Tester section as follows:
Anchor Ads and In-Line Ads:
How to create Ezoic ads
The following is a series of screenshots setting out how to create ad placeholders with Ezoic’s Ad Tester App once the Ad Tester app:
Then install and open the Ad Tester app:
Once installed, go through the following steps to create an Ezoic ad:
Step 1: Click + Display Ad Unit
Step 2: Select an Ezoic Ad Preset
This is an important feature. See the IMPORTANT EZOIC AD TESTER TIP box below under Step 7.
Step 3: Name Your Ad Unit
Step 4: Choose a device(s) on which your ad will show
I normally allocated one ad to one device. It takes longer to create more placeholders, but this way you can ensure ad sizes are correct for each device.
Step 5: Choose relevant sizes for your ad
When choosing ad sizes, pay attention to which ad sizes pertain to specific devices. If gray, it’s not an ad size you should use for that particular device.
Step 6: Click “Create Ad”
Step 7: Copy provided code and place in your site where you want the ad to show up
How to wrap Ezoic placeholder ad tags around other ad tags:
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
When you start with Ezoic, you must choose your goals. The options are revenue optimization, user experience optimization or a mix of the two.
Most people opt for a mix of the two. For example, you can tell the software to optimize for revenue at 70% and user experience at 30%. It’s a sliding balancing scale so you can choose any percentages for each goal that you want.
Here’s a screenshot of adjusting goal optimization:
Show me the money – why would anyone optimize for user experience?
When I started with Ezoic, I went full throttle revenue optimization setting it at 100%. However, John Cole, the COO of Ezoic, suggested to set a small percent for user optimization because of diminishing returns.
What John means by this is if a particular ad configuration will earn just $.01 more than another configuration, even if that other configuration would offer a much better user experience, the system will display the configuration paying only $.01 more at the cost of a much better user experience.
What is user experience?
User experience is measured by duration of time on site, number of page views per visitor and bounce rate. These are important metrics, especially if you’re seeking to improve organic search traffic.
It makes sense. Google wants to offer the best sites for visitors. This is largely measured by time on site and bounce rate (for the most part – it’s not perfect). Therefore, if you have good user experience metrics for the traffic Google sends your way, Google is more prone to give you decent rankings.
Does user experience matter?
Yes it does. The longer I’m a website publisher, the more I realize how important user experience is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to cut down to one ad on my site. I need to eat. However, since launching my B2C sites, I’ve eased up on ad aggressiveness for the sake of user experience.
What are my current optimization goals?
Because I’m manually placing ads via the Ad Tester service, means I’ve exercised a lot of control over where ads will display, I set optimization goals to 100% revenue.
If you choose to let Ezoic place ads for testing, you might want to have user experience set anywhere from 10 to 30%.
What Does Ezoic Test Against?
This is a good question. It tests against your site’s initial performance. When you start with Ezoic, you can run it 50% of the time (or whatever percent you choose – it doesn’t have to be 50%) so it runs against your site’s initial AdSense configuration. The system will automatically track performance and report whether it’s improving or not. It’s cool watching it trying to catch up.
However, it doesn’t track against other ad networks. In my case I also used Media.net ads which it couldn’t include in its calculations. Therefore, I had to calculate the comparisons.
Additionally, another feature Ezoic recently added is the ability to add other ad networks to bid for displays in the 5 Ezoic ad spots. Initially, Ezoic simply placed AdX ads on your site. However, if you have accounts with other ad networks, you can add those accounts in your Ezoic account to also bid for displays.
Here’s a screenshot of the additional ad networks you can add (to increase bidding competition):
I don’t have to tell you the benefits here could be enormous – more bidding and access to some premium ad networks that you may not normally have access to.
Another measurement item to note is that Ezoic reports revenue as EPMV which stands for “earnings per thousand visits”. Most people are familiar with RPM (revenue per thousand page views). The 2 are dramatically different. For instance, if you average 2 page views per visit, your RPM will be lower than EPMV.
Technically, EPMV is a better figure to use because you view traffic in number of visits instead of page views. This is especially the case if you buy traffic.
- Up to five ads per page (5 on desktop, 4 on mobile devices). Yes, you read that right. With Ezoic you can have up to 5 Google ads displayed on your page (4 on mobile). The reason for this Ezoic uses AdX for display ads, which permits up to five ads per page (even Google ads). Moreover, I’m told more advertisers participate with AdX than AdSense so there’s more competition bidding for ad spots.
- Mobile anchor unit. The Ezoic service includes use of a mobile anchor unit, which is a sticky ad on the bottom of mobile devices that floats down the screen as website visitors scroll down a web page.
- AdX ads: AdX is an Ad exchange that includes Google ads. It’s a huge ad network with loads of advertisers bidding for ad spot.
- Peace of Mind. If you use the Layout Tester service, you can be confident you won’t have ad placement problems. However, if you manually place ads, you’re still responsible for placement. That said, Ezoic can offer feedback about your placements – it’s always good to have a sounding board from knowledgeable people in the industry.
- Extensive optimization testing (across desktop, mobile and tablets). In the introduction above, I wrote that testing is tedious these days because you must test ad optimization across 3 types of devices. Desktop ad configuration will not necessarily be the best configuration on mobile and tablets. This is tedious work. Ezoic’s testing platform tests automatically on all 3 devices.
- Possible user experience and/or revenue improvement. I say “possible” because it may or may not improve your site’s performance. They’ve helped a lot of website publishers so it’s a proven service. All I can say is it’s worth trying. If it helps your site, that can result in a lot of revenue for your over the years.
- Fantastic reporting. When I used Ezoic, the reporting was bad. Since then they’ve dramatically improved their reporting options. You can now track revenue and EPMV (earnings per 1,000 visitors) by traffic source, on a URL by URL basis, country, traffic source and device.
- Use it a little or a lot. If you’re lukewarm to the concept, you can use Ezoic only a little. By this I mean you can set it so Ezoic functions on a percentage of page displays. It can be as little as 5% or any percent you choose. In fact, when starting, it’s a good idea to run Ezoic only partially so the system can measure its performance against your site’s original AdSense peformance.
- Make your site mobile friendly. If you don’t have a mobile responsive site, you can use Ezoic’s “Mobile Friendly” app to turn your site mobile responsive automatically.
- Can your site for objectionable content: AdSense has rules about displaying ads on non-family-friendly content. If your site has non-family-friendly content, you don’t want AdSense ads on that content. Ezoic has a setting “Objectionable Content” which scans your site for objectionable content. If any, you can add those URLs to the “Excluded Pages” app. Ezoic will then not show ads on those excluded pages.
- Scan for Error Pages: Ezoic has a settings screen that scans your site for broken internal links. While there’s other software that does this, it’s a handy feature to have in Ezoic.
- Max. Ads Per Page: If you don’t want 5 ads per page, but still want to test for optimal placement, you can tell the Ezoic system to display anywhere from 0 to 5 ads per page. You can also choose to have Ezoic choose how many ads to display, which it does based on a page’s length. Here’s a screenshot of the Max Ads Per Page function.
- Pay only $4.95 per month to get an ios app version of your website. Ezoic handles getting it onto the ios app store and monetizes it for you. I’m doing this for all sites.
Ezoic Testimonial from a Relieved Ezoic Customer
On March 24, 2016 I received the following email from a Fat Stacks reader:
Thought I’d give you a quick update.
I had left Ezoic because their ad platform just wan’ts performing well for me. But after reading your post, I thought I would give them a shot in the future and was planning on doing so.
However, today I got an email from them. Turns out I had forgotten to delete them in my adsense account as a MANAGED ACCOUNT. Lucky for me I forgot.
The rep who I was dealing with on a one to one told me that one of my ads was flagged by Adsense. They gave me the EXACT URL and told me EXACTLY why. There were videos I used on the page that violated their TOS. It wasn’t obvious when I put that video in, but now I can see why. If I didn’t have Ezoic, I really wonder if they would have given me this much detail or flat out banned my adsense account.
Anyway, to me this is probably one of the BIGGEST reasons to use a service like Ezoic. The fact that they filter this and help protect your Adsense is a big safety cushion. I’m happy I forgot to remove them! haha.
Anyway, to get to the point. I’m happy you wrote about Ezoic again, because it motivated me to get back with them.
Please don’t construe the above testimonial as being bulletproof from Adsense troubles, but one big reason I go with Ezoic is additional protection from Adsense issues… often in the form of warnings and more importantly, details as to the problem. Often Adsense problems are inadvertent such as the case in the above example.
Max Five Ads Per Page Settings App in Ezoic (Screenshot):
One of the things I like about Ezoic is how easy to use the backend is. It’s so simple.
While the system is hands-free, it’s a good idea to go through the settings options so you get things set up just the way you want them.
The settings screen is as follows:
For more features and settings, you go to the Apps screen, which is as follows (the checked apps below are the ones I’m using):
Other Ezoic Offerings
App Creation and Submission:
Recently Ezoic rolled out an option to have a mobile app of your website created and submitted to the Apple app store. Unfortunately it’s only the Apple app store right now. I’m sure they’ll get Google Play going soon.
This costs $4.95 per month, which is a really good rate for an app. I pay $48 per month per app. Had Ezoic had the app service earlier, I would have used it. I may use it for new sites. Creating apps and monetizing them is a hassle. I like the idea of Ezoic handling it all for me.
Automatic internal linking
Ezoic has an app called “EZ Links” which will input internal links throughout your site. I’m not too keen about such automated features, but you might like it.
Ezoic system includes the use of a CDN which can increase your site’s speed.
How long does optimization and testing take?
With Ezoic full (i.e. the Layout Tester) it can take quite a while (5 to 8 weeks) because there are so many configurations the software runs.
Ezoic Lite (i.e. just the Ad Tester) optimization is much faster because there are far fewer configurations tested (since it uses your site’s design and tests only ads you manually place on your site). That said, if you choose to let Ezoic test ad placements in addition to your manual placements, optimization takes longer because more variations are tested.
What ad networks are used with the Ezoic system?
AdX, native ads (Taboola) as well as pop up ads. You can choose to turn on/off native and pop up ads. You can also choose how many display ads to display on your page (0 to 5).
Can you buy traffic to websites using Ezoic?
Yes you can. I did and do. The Ezoic team was fully aware that I was. However, they do require that the traffic sources be high quality. If you send junk traffic to your site, either Ezoic will intervene or you risk problems with AdSense and perhaps other ad networks.
That said, the founders of Ezoic believe organic traffic is best. They’ll tell you as much. However, it’s hard to beat paid traffic if it’s profitable.
Can you use other ad networks separate from Ezoic?
I’m delighted to answer this with a resounding “yes”. One of the main reasons I stopped using Ezoic in the Summer of 2015 after 3 to 4 months was I missed Media.net ads which earned a lot of money.
However, with the new Ezoic options, you can now place ads from networks separately and in addition to the 5 Ezoic ads. This is a game changer for me and I think for many people who decide to use Ezoic.
Is it easy to be accepted into Ezoic?
Yes. Unlike many ad optimization services, Ezoic accepts most sites.
How much does Ezoic cost?
It’s free for info sites, but you agree to a small ad on the bottom of your site. Or, you can opt for pricing based on the revenue your site generates.
Lastly, if you use a business or corporate site, it’s $19 per month.
Regardless of which pricing plan you go with, you can try the system for free for 30 days.
Can you exclude ads on individual pages?
Yes. You simply input the URLs on which you don’t want ads.
Do you have to sign a contract?
No. You can stop using the service any time you like. It takes seconds to disengage the system.
Is there customer support?
Yes, and it’s excellent. You can ask questions any time (via email support or live chat). They respond very quickly. They’ll provide all kinds of information as well as help you with your account settings.
How do I insert Ezoic ad tags onto my site?
My Ezoic Settings
Now that you’re familiar with what Ezoic has to offer, you probably want to know how I configure Ezoic.
I’m currently using Ezoic for 2 websites. The configuration is the same for both, with one exception. I set out the exception below.
Here are my settings and how I’m currently using Ezoic.
Layout Tester (using Ezoic templates and ad placements): No
Ad Tester: Yes. Site #1 I does NOT enable Ezoic to place additional ad placements. For Site #2, I do enable Ezoic to place and test additional ad placements.
I’ve set up 8 placements on Site #1 and 4 for Site #2. I’m careful to place ads in Google acceptable placements. Ezoic will not make your site bulletproof if you manually place ads.
IMPORTANT: I create separate placeholders for desktop, tablet and mobile. I then use WP Mobile Detect plugin to control with ads show up on which device.
Maximum Ads Per Page: I choose 5 ads per page. I do NOT select the “Automatic” option. I want 5 ads on every page. By default “Automatic” is selected. If you want 5 ads per page, you must install the “Maximum Ads Per Page” app and select “5 ads per page”.
Anchor Ads: Yes, I turn them on for all sites. Anchor ads are mobile footer ads and can earn a lot of money. Here’s a screenshot in the Ad Tester app:
Optimization: Custom, with Revenue at 100% (keep in mind I’m using the manual version of Ezoic so I have more control with the ads. If you use the Layout Tester, I recommend you set User Experience to a minimum of 10%.
Here’s a screenshot of how I configure Ezoic’s goal optimization:
Ad Categories App: By default, Gambling, Drugs and Sexual & Reproductive health ads will not show on your site. If you want any and all ads to show, you must install the “Ad Categories App” and then select them to show. Here’s a screenshot:
That’s about it for my Ezoic settings and configuration.
Ezoic Ad Colors Testing
As of February 3, 2016 Ezoic rolled out a new feature that enables you to split test ad colors.
Here’s the screen where you create ad color styles in Ezoic:
In a nutshell, for each site you have using Ezoic, you can create custom ad colors. You assign a weight to each color design. The weight totals for all color designs should not exceed 100%.
At this stage, I’ve set up ad colors as set out in the above screenshot. I’ve set the weight of each ad style at 17%, totaling 85%. The remaining 15% will test ad colors dictated by Ezoic.
I chose the blue because that’s the blue throughout my site. I chose the red because red often performs well. For my other site on Ezoic, I also use the red, but the color style of the other ads is in the same color as the dominant color on the site (seen in the logo, links, etc.).
Ezoic will split test the color designs and once it has enough data will show more of the best performing color styles.
Ezoic Reporting Options
When I first used Ezoic, the reporting wasn’t very good. I was left guessing on a lot of key metrics.
Since then, Ezoic dramatically improved their reporting. In fact, their reports offer more details than AdSense (when connected to Analytics).
In a nutshell, Ezoic reports can tell you the following information by month, day or custom range:
- EPMV (earnings per 1,000 visitors) by device
- EPMV on a URL-by-URL basis. This is absolutely key if buying traffic or running social media campaigns.
- EPMV by UTM tracking codes (i.e. traffic sources), which is also key if buying traffic or running social media campaigns.
- EPMV by country.
You can also cross filter results. For example, you can see what the EPMV for mobile phones is for individual URLs. Or take it one step further, check the EPMV for desktop for traffic from Canada. This is an amazing feature.
Here’s a screenshot of the advanced reporting filter options:
Is Ezoic Good?
I recommend anything and everything that helps you achieve peak performance with your website. This requires testing and trying all sorts of monetization optimization tools, software, etc. So yes, I recommend trying Ezoic.
I’m not suggesting Ezoic will in fact improve your site’s performance (revenue and/or user experience). However, the fact that it might improve your site’s performance makes it worth trying. They have thousands of website publishers using their service, so it clearly works for some publishers.
The way I look at it is your website is likely a long term project and revenue source. Therefore, if Ezoic helps, even if it’s only a 10% improvement, that’s a lot of money to you in the long run.
If it doesn’t help your site, stop the service. That takes all of 2 minutes.
IMPORTANT: One of the most compelling reasons to use Ezoic, in my view, is the fact their ad configurations (used on the Layout Tester app) are approved by Google AdSense, which means you’re far less vulnerable with having ad placement problems with AdSense. You can still violate AdSense TOS if you send junk traffic to your site or participate in click fraud, but ad placement is not a risk. This is a huge benefit because many AdSense TOS violations involve ad placement. So if you worry about your ad placement, Ezoic Full can give you peace of mind.
Please note that the same protection does not apply to manually placing your ads. The folks at Ezoic will give you feedback about your placement if you ask, but you’re ultimately responsible for your ad placement with the Ad Tester app.
Am I using Ezoic? Yes, I am.