Why did I choose Ezoic?
With growing organic traffic, I'm always looking for opportunities to improve the revenue for my website schoolholidays.com.au. So I follow many people on Twitter who have their websites and niche blogs and are constantly bragging about their earnings and other achievements. Most of them who reached 50,000+ page views were talking about two ad platforms, alternatives to Adsense: Ezoic and Mediavine.
So I was sold and decided to try Ezoic first, because I was under impression that this is an ideal solution for publishers. It became my choice for the next step in my website monetisation.
How I started with Ezoic
I will skip the part where I registered the account and followed the tutorials, because it's boring. At the end of this process, I had a complete set-up and was ready to switch the toggle.
It was around midnight when the traffic is lower, and I wanted to avoid potential issues while testing Ezoic.
Immediately after the switch, I noticed some latency increase but my thought was that I might haven't done all the suggested configuration settings.
One of them is LEAP, which stands as the magic technology that supposes to improve all of your Web Vital scores. As a result, you could get more traffic to your website. Sounds good! I started trying all these settings one by one as it was suggested.
Eventually, I tried everything that night. However, I had only the opposite effect each time I turned on the next toggle - latency became worse and the script execution time became even higher.
The website became slower and slower with each feature turned on. After several disappointing experiments, I've decided to use caching, a standard part of Cloudflare. I turned it on and started measuring the latency. This was the moment to became disappointed again.
Before moving to Ezoic, all our pages had 120-140ms loading time. After the switch, I couldn't catch any page load less than 800-1000ms with the enabled cache.
It was bizarre because their partner is Cloudflare, which by default, has one of the fastest CDNs in the world, and the indicator on their website shows that I should have a 9ms response time to their closest regional service (Melbourne). So, having even 800-1000+ms is something very unusual.
How I tried to fix the problems with Ezoic
So, I'm a web developer, right? So I decided to do my best to minimise the loading time from my side.
Before I used Nuxt 2 in SSR (Server side rendering) mode, which had some implications. Almost every request should be served with a database access, which requires some extra time to establish a DB connection, get data, process the Vue.js template and render the page.
So the following day, I first did the switching Nuxt to the Static mode, when it generates all the pages upfront, and then the website serves as static files.
It becomes the most straightforward and fastest combination of Nginx + HTML files in folders. The website was flying when I tested it on another server without an Ezoic proxy.
When I deployed the new static version of my website, I tested the loading time again. As a result, all I had is an improvement up to 720-780ms response time for any page.
It was not what I expected, but I decided that it is ok as long as Google still sending traffic to my website.
And then I finally looked at the Google Search Console...
How to lose Good Page Experience in less than a week with Ezoic
Before I started using Ezoic, I had around 60% of the Good URLs (named by Google) on Mobile devices and 95% on Desktop. These Good URLs gave me around 80% of Good Impressions.
It's hard to speculate about how loosing the Good experience has affected my website positions and its visibility on Search, but it makes me extremely disappointed when I saw the below graph:
The drop on these graphs is my experience with Ezoic for about week. As you can see, I lost it all.
Now I have to wait until Google picks up it again if it ever happens...
Let's talk about money...
Well, maybe you think that at least I got same crazy earnings with Ezoic during my experiment, so it could be just a fair trade-off.
It's funny but during that week, Ezoic gave me less than I was having before switching from Google Adsense.
Here is an EPMV for that period: $3 -> $1.2 EPMV in 7 days.
You don't need to be a data analyst to understand where the earnings are going to...
Here is the whole profit, day by day: $2.39 (only several hours), $7.36, $7.12, $4.22, $4.55, $4.20, $4.01, $3.39.
Maybe it sounds repeatable but again, the earnings I got with Ezoic were not that I expected reading the Ezoic ads. So you can see the trend: more visits - less earnings. WTF!
When I decided to stop using Ezoic
After all my efforts fighting with the Ezoic platform in improving the website performance, I thought, maybe its just not the right country settings. I live in Australia and my server is in the Sydney region.
But we all know the definition of CDN (Content Delivery Network) and understand that the region there shouldn't be any problems.
As per the Cloudflare website, a content delivery network (CDN) refers to a geographically distributed group of servers which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content.
I probably could ask for help but couldn't find any direct communication channel in the Ezoic app. Instead they offer you to go to some Twist channel.
So with Twist, you need to be invited, onboarded, promoted and who knows what else to simply ask the question.
It looks so frustrating, especially when I see this loading twist below.
I don't have time to figure out what I'm doing wrong in some 3rd party chat, if I just clicked the button that you told me to click.
After 7 days of trying everything to improve my website performance, I finally decided to turn Ezoic off and put the old Google Adsense script back. SO now I'm looking for the next opportunity to improve my website ad earnings somewhere else.
Good news is that after I turned Ezoic off, I started to experience the real speed of my static-generated website.
Hopefully, I will get all my Google Console green stats back soon and don't lose the traffic.
What you should know before you decide to join Ezoic
Ezoic uses the Cloudflare infrastructure, meaning that they are in full control of all the traffic on your domain and subdomains. It seems like they use something like Edge Workers to proxy and serve some ad scripts on your domain. Maybe this was causing the problems in my case because each request went via their router, middleware or something similar. This seemed to add extra time to process the request/response.
Ezoic caches all your traffic by default. So if you use API on the same domain or on a subdomain, all responses will be cashed. You have to exclude each subdomain or route from caching manually if it's not supposed to be cached (e.g. API routes).
Every time when you deploy some changes to your existing pages, you have to clear the cache. Otherwise, your content is not updated.
Ezoic forces you to improve your website performance with their technology (LEAP). My personal opinion is that it should not be their concern. Here is a list of reasons for that:
Any modern website or web application is usually built using a bundler (e.g. Webpack, Rollup) which has a minifier by default. Why do I need to minify the files again with Ezoic?
If the website based on Wordpress, there are bunch of free or paid plugins which can optimize everything for you and even make your website fully static. Why does Ezoic want to do optimize it again?
Any website could control its cache policy itself based on some specific rules. Why should this be controlled by Ezoic?
Before offering the publishers anything to improve their websites' performance, Ezoic could make their own website/application working faster in any region. It takes more than 30 seconds to fully load the Home page in Ezoic Admin. Their Home page is 5.5Mb gzipped / 22.1 mb unzipped which is a lot.
What was good about Ezoic
Ezoic helped me to understand more about how advertising works which is really useful;
Because of Ezoic (but not by Ezoic) I improved my website in many aspects in order to resolve the issues that I described above;
I decided to join an Ezoic competitor, who promises almost the same level of ad revenue for publishers but is not so intrusive with its technologies;
I improved my writing skills and got another interesting topic for my personal blog that you are reading right now.
I hope my experience with Ezoic could help someone avoid the issues that I had and he/she will be more careful with their choices. The reality is that nobody advertises issues with their product. We usually learn this in a hard way.
While I was writing this article I saw how Dwaine Lafleur (Founder and CEO of Ezoic) is advertising his platform on Twitter and I shared my doubts:
It's always good when CEO offers help directly, but at the same time I can't work as a tester or a Q&A for free. My hourly rate is more than any of this ads can give me in a week. So, if I spent my time on something, it will be a new article on my blog.
On the Dwayne's reply I can say that as a customer of your platform why should I care about your ad partners approvals and mediation?
The Adsense Mediation has been always on.
Header Bidding Mediation is totally unclear for me from the user experience point of view. As a user, what should I do on this screen below? Should I manually add all networks on all 78 pages? Or should I follow the note and do nothing? It doesn't make sense at all what my actions should be here.
Note: Mediation is for you to connect your existing accounts with header bidding networks. Ezoic has already secured partnerships with several top header bidding networks on your behalf, so you do not need to apply to new networks to work with them.
Anyway, this article is my promise to Dwayne's team (via Twitter DM) to write down my experience so they can improve their product. Everything you read in this article is based on my personal experience and you should not take it as a recommendation or a piece of advice when you choose your ad platform as a publisher.
Thank you for your time reading it!