Freestar monetizers some of the word’s largest publishers, and because of that, we take quality very seriously. In order to grow publisher’s average CPMs the  last 8 years, safe to assume quality has always been in mind. But recently we’ve doubled-down on what’s required for acceptance and even said goodbye to legacy publishers who didn’t meet these quality standards.

As Freestar’s VP of Audience Strategy, I work with our business development team to ensure the publishers we acquire have an audience desirable to advertisers. This audience comes from several traffic sources, the most desirable being organic search.

Once accepted and monetizing with Freestar, our publishers receive audience development insights and traffic driving tips to assist with SEO and content strategy. This helps them grow and retain traffic levels, while our yield and ad teams get the highest price for each impression. We’re selective with our demand partners, as well as the publishers we accept. Advertisers can be confident that our supply has gone through several rounds of quality approvals prior to being accepted to Freestar.

Publisher Quality Requirements

1. Not directly related to quality, but good to mention is that Freestar requires at least five million monthly pageviews and at least 6 months historical data available. At the foundation of our business is best in-class tech delivering quality ads to quality audience, and one of our best demand-side differentiator is scale. Over 1,000 publishers choose Freestar as their main monetization partner, and with one million plus monthly pageviews at the least, you can image the advertiser interest. Our community of publishers is currently listed at #14 on Comscore’s top 100 media properties.

2.Those pageviews must be meant for human consumption, and seen via white-listed traffic sources. Having spend the first decade of my career in SEO, I’m partial to organic search traffic, but at the end of the day, a healthy mix of clean traffic is safest. We require access to Google Analytics (or equivalent) to verify that pageviews are from legitimate sources. A diversified traffic makeup commonly comes from a mix of organic search (Google, Bing, Yahoo), social (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram), Google News, Google Discover, Google Images, YouTube, Reddit, and news syndication sources (Smart News, Flipboard, News360, Newsbreak). We use internal tools to suss out a paid-heavy traffic strategy, and other black hat traffic tactics.

3. Publishers must be in good standing with Google Adsense. This has always been the case, but with the 2021 addition of Google MCM, there’s really no way around this. If you’ve had issues in the past with Google flags, penalties or demand rejections, we likely won’t be able to work with you.

4. Content must be original to the publisher. In the approval process, we look at what pages on the site gets traffic. We also look at metrics like bounce rate, time on page, and pages per session. These metrics help us determine if ads will perform. The most successful monetization comes in the form of engaged website users. Content strategies that will not be accepted: stolen/scrapped, fully AI-generated, clickbait headlines for the purpose of paid media, and content with potential copyright issues.

5. We don’t accept sites whose content jeopardizes brand safety or is NSFW. Advertisers go to great length to ensure brand safety, it’s the least we can do on our end. Plus, the monetization in general of this type content is crap, and brings down our averages. Best we just avoid.

6. We must see publisher involvement and care displayed through website quality and UX. The details of how we determine may be of a secret-sauce, but it’s not difficult to tell when a site cares more about revenue than of the user. Taking a quick scroll through the site will tell when the last time human optimizations were completed.

At the end of the day, in order to provide publishers the high CPMs we do today, we must take quality seriously. Our community as a whole is stronger, when each of us individually care about quality.