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How Setupad Boosts Websites Revenue By 300%: Q/A with CEO Toms Panders

How Setupad Boosts Websites Revenue By 300%: Q/A with CEO Toms Panders

Roberto Popolizio
👋 Welcome to another interview by Website Planet. Our interviewees show you the growth strategies and tools they use to grow their company and stand out from the competition, and analyze the current trends in their industry to give you an actionable playbook you can learn from.

Our interviewee today is Toms Panders, CEO and Co-founder of Setupad, a website monetization platform offering programmatic monetization solutions to assist publishers in increasing their ad revenue.

Setupad’s programmatic monetization solutions, including their Prebid technology, have been able to boost ad revenue by up to 300% for over 500 publishers and generate 2,3 billion monthly ad impressions.

What problems are you solving for your customers and audience?

Setupad is a website monetization platform designed to optimize ad revenues for publishers. By utilizing the most advanced ad stack and offering publishers unmatched customer support and holistic approach to website optimization, Setupad has positioned itself as a key player in the ad tech industry.

Setupad’s ideal customers are digital publishers of various sizes, from small blogs to large media outlets, who seek to maximize their advertising revenue. With a tailored suite of products designed for each group of publishers, these creators often rely on ad monetization as their primary revenue channel. They span across multiple industries, including news, entertainment, education, and more, with a global reach and with notable presence in regions like the Baltics, where Setupad was recognized as the first Google Certified Publishing Partner.

In the world of ad monetization, publishers often face challenges, such as complexity of adtech, fluctuating ad revenues, and lack of optimization technology. They try to solve these issues through DIY ad management or by partnering with other ad networks and monetization platforms. While these methods can provide some relief, they often fall short due to limited demand sources, outdated technology, and insufficient support.

Setupad’s Google-certified AdOps work out optimal ad layout and ad density, configure optimal ad setup, assist with direct campaigns, and much more.

For Setupad, it is vital to not only provide the client with better revenue results, but also support the publisher in growing their audience, providing the best user experience to their readers, and delivering maximum value to advertisers.

Because we are more than just an ad revenue partner, with every client we undertake a custom approach of configuring the best website optimization scenario. Here’s an example of our work with Ukraine’s oldest English-language newspaper, The Kyiv Post.

Arvis Renckulbergs

“Our website was less responsive, and it was less adapted to ads. After great consulting with our account executive and their technical team, we applied the changes, and everything is working smoothly now. The user experience is better, we get solid CTR and great eCPM rates.”

Mustafa, Founder of BHDijaspora.net.

“Before I partnered with Setupad, I ran Google AdSense featured content at the bottom of the page. My Setupad representative helped me with a replacement for those ads that I really like. After a few days of correspondence with him and asking several questions, I decided that it was worth experimenting to see if I could do better. The two most important things to me were testing to see if I could earn more revenue and having an account representative who could assist me in finding ways to increase my ad revenue. Both have worked out very well for me.”

Brian Williams, Coachingtoolbox.net founder.

“Setupad helped us with the layout of the mobile version, which was basically reinvented. We got rid of the poor-performing ads and added more top-performing mobile ads.”

Dmytro Vakuliuk, Head of Digital at the Kyiv Post.

Most of our clients have seen revenue uplift ranging from 30% to 490%. In addition, all clients have seen notable improvements in ad viewability, eCPM, ePMV, fill rate, CTR, and page impressions.

What makes people eventually choose you over your competitors?

Setupad easy-to-implement lightweight Prebid technology requires minimal involvement from the publisher’s IT team, demonstrating a clear track record of revenue improvement, while the skilled adtech experts at Setupad will help perform all website optimizations that will ultimately lead to a better revenue and user experience. The optimizations include SEO guidance, website layout and UX/UI improvements, website speed audits, and much more.

One of the most advanced ad stacks on the market, some prominent features include server-side integrations, own cloud ad server and insights-packed audience tool with Google Analytics integration.

Because our solution is risk-free and doesn’t require a volume commitment before showing a revenue growth potential, all we need from publishers is trust in our expertise.

What is the current techstack you use to run your online business?

Setupad’s core technology is header bidding, which allows connecting publishers’ ad inventory to dozens of premium buyers like Google without the risk of underselling it.

Setupad has one of the most advanced ad stacks on the market. Over the years, our technology was carefully vetted and perfected to achieve the perfect balance of user experience, which is so crucial for ad-supported businesses, and ad performance.

Features that support our core technology:
  • Server-side integration that provide a faster bid response and additional demand, which translates into extra revenue
  • Our own ad server, which was built to connect publishers’ ad inventory to a limitless number of demand partners with a single server call, significantly cutting down the server runtime
  • Proprietary ad refresh that takes into account user behavior and the average eCPM
  • Insights-packed audience tool with Google Analytics integration to make data-driven decisions on how to improve ad performance.
The most major recent addition to Setupad’s product suite is its fully automated Prebid self-serve platform. This solution enables publishers at all levels to manage and optimize their ad sales process efficiently and entirely in-house, using a unified system.

Our products are tailored to different-sized publishers with different needs, including enterprise publishers with direct sales and large volumes of monthly ad impressions. However, all our products are fully optimized with Google and powered by our core proprietary technology and our cloud ad server, as well as an extensive list of more than 30 demand partners (SSPs) that deliver publishers maximum return on their ad inventory.

Since you started, what helped you grow and retain your audience?

🏆 We are honored to be recognized among the best start-ups in the Baltics and in Europe, which is being demonstrated through annual nominations and awards:
  • We were recognized by Deloitte as a company that successfully links great services with a positive impact on society, business, innovation, environment and diversity in 2022
  • Awarded Company of the Year in The Stevie® Awards at the 20th Annual International Business Awards in Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations in 2023
We remain committed to our clients and our primary means for that is education and knowledge sharing. Through the tireless efforts of our Sales and Marketing teams, we strive to educate digital publishers on the value of programmatic advertising, website monetization, digital marketing, and digital publishing. Our content is tailored to meet the needs of both beginners and seasoned professionals, and we have continuously been recognized for our content marketing activities in the industry media.

I also don’t use Setupad’s services – but again I love their output. They are great at writing comprehensive guides to smaller topics within Online Advertising which are incredibly useful when you don’t exactly know what’s what.”

Justin, the Editor of The Online Advertising Guide.

We also believe it’s a prerequisite to stay on top of industry changes, which allows us to constantly innovate and improve our product stack. Not only are we proud technology members of Prebid, the world’s leading open-source header bidding wrapper, our Consent Management Platform (CMP), which we developed with privacy and user experience in mind, has been recognized as one of the early Google-certified CMPs.

What’s in the roadmap for your future?

Setupad is proud to be helping over 500 international clients serve over 2,3 billion monthly ad impressions. Our primary focus is on clients from the EU and the US as we gradually extend our reach worldwide. We currently have three active offices in Riga, Vilnius, and Madrid, with almost 50 employees. The Madrid office was established to bolster our market presence in an area where we are rapidly growing – Spain and LATAM.

In 2023, Setupad had reached €3,47 million in company income and was recognized as a Company of the Year in The Stevie® Awards at the 20th Annual International Business Awards in Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations.

Initially operating under an agency model, Setupad offered customized programmatic solutions to publishers. However, this service has significantly expanded over the last two years. Currently, we are investing heavily in development and innovation to transition from an agency model to a SaaS platform. This shift aims to position Setupad as the go-to technology provider for publishers with large impression volumes and sophisticated needs, offering a flexible and scalable Prebid technology.

The move towards a software product is driven by the desire to expand globally and improve service for clients across various time zones. Our self-serve platform will include Free and Business plans, catering to both small and growing publishers. Our simplified, automated Prebid platform reduces the need for IT involvement and can be set up in just 30 minutes.

Partnerships play a crucial role not only for our company but for the industry at large. Setupad is a Google Certified Publishing Partner (GCPP) and a Prebid Technology partner, both essential technologies for publishers’ ad stacks. With years of experience, we manage relationships with hundreds of industry-leading demand partners on behalf of publishers that are crucial for their success.

We also encourage our publishers to form direct relationships while we take care of the technical integration. We’re observing a trend where local media agencies engage with Prebid technologies, which we facilitate for our publishers.

And without a good Prebid service, it’s extremely cumbersome to add new partners. This is where our self-serve comes into play, a platform that allows the addition of new partners within minutes without any manual code updates.

Our primary objectives include maintaining profitability and staying ahead of industry trends despite the challenge of predicting which trends and business opportunities will prevail. We aim for greater stability and longevity through our software offerings. As a bootstrapped startup, our journey towards such significant development investments marks an essential step towards success.

What do you see in the future of your industry?

The advertising industry is one of the fastest-changing industries in the world. You are never secure in adtech, and success often feels like going through the eye of a needle. When evaluating trends, we consider two critical questions:

Do clients (publishers) support the idea, and can a website without any special privileges use it?

It’s not about chasing every trend but selecting wisely, much like surfers choosing the perfect wave. They wait for the best wave on the lineup. And experience gradually reveals which waves (trends) will be most beneficial.

Programmatic advertising has raised many important questions about privacy, supply transparency, and technological fees (known as adtech tax). It’s no longer a fancy new technology that everybody wants to use but rather a commodity with high expectations. It has to work perfectly, be affordable, and retain control for the end user.

At Setupad, we recognize the industry’s shift towards empowering publishers to regain control over their monetization strategies. This means moving away from walled gardens – platforms and services that lock users within their ecosystem.

In practice, this involves reducing the number of intermediates that don’t contribute enough value, increasing the transparency over advertising costs, and eliminating hidden tech fees. As programmatic advertising becomes more democratized, open-source and self-service platforms lead the way in this transformation. In these challenging times, clients are focusing on enhancing operational efficiency.

Adopting software with a fixed pricing model emerges as a new business opportunity. The main priority for publishers is to have talented people who can run automated software platforms for programmatic monetization in-house without intermediaries.

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