The Sports Reference sites first launched with in April 2000 by Sean Forman, in December 2000 by Doug Drinen, and in April 2004 by Justin Kubatko.

Today, Sports Reference has grown to be the #1 destination for sports stats and they even have a podcast, For Your Reference. On a daily basis, they have over 1M+ users and publish 10M+ pages of stats.

The Brief

Sports Reference was using a solution that wasn't putting their best foot forward for their business and discovered they were underperforming substantially. 

They were looking for an ad monetization solution that could:

  • Prioritize User Experience – Sports Reference prides itself on providing a good user experience, and they wanted a partner that would match their values.
  • Maximized Ad Revenue – Sports Reference wanted to maximize their ad revenue potential after their previous solution underperformed.
  • Provide Responsive Publisher Support – They were also looking for a partner that would be attentive to their needs and address issues.

"Working with Freestar has always been tremendous. We have an Account Manager who is responsive whenever we need them and receptive to any concerns. We're delighted with Freestar as our ad monetization partner and have only had a positive experience with them."

The Approach

After meeting with Freestar, Sports Reference moved forward with our fully-managed web monetization solution. It's been a successful partnership for the past five years, and Freestar works with Sports Reference to continually look for ways to maximize their ad revenue.

In 2022, Freestar optimized Sports Reference's ad monetization by implementing the following:

  • Video Ad Units With the industry moving towards video, we added video units to Sports Reference's websites with a strong focus on maximizing user experience.
  • Bottom Adhesion –We added bottom ad units on desktop and mobile and made customizations to the ad unit to prioritize user experience.
  • Flex Sizes – Freestar added flex sizes to all Sports Reference's websites. Flex sizes allow multiple ad sizes to bid for the same ad slot, depending on which one gets the higher bid. 

The Results

In September 2022, Sports Reference implemented video; on the first day, video ad revenue was $11K. By October 2022, video ad revenue reached $360K+ globally and by the end of Q4 2022, video ad revenue surpassed $1M. We’ve generated over $1M with bottom adhesion units since August 2022. For flex sizes, the results have been positive across the board: 

  • Baseball-Reference: 30% lift in RPM and 25% lift in RPS
  • Basketball-Reference: 30% lift in RPM and 23% lift in RPS
  • Pro-Football-Reference: 26% lift in RPM and 19% lift in RPS
  • Hockey-Reference: 22% lift in RPM and 27% lift in RPS

These optimizations contributed to Sports Reference's ad revenue increasing by 33.6% in 2022. Not to mention, working with Freestar has made ad management and operations for Sports Reference much easier. They have a Customer Success Manager who is always responsive and receptive to their goals and values. Sports Reference can leave the ad management in Freestar's trusted hands. Before Freestar, Sports Reference would have to chase down issues and many days were lost trying to solve them.