How a digital publisher monetized 8X more in one month with WordPress scaling strategies
- The project in a nutshell: A magazine-type website, monetizing programmatic ads.
- Agency work scope: Build the platform from scratch, utilizing WordPress multisite functionality and RTK.io infrastructure plus numerous ad operation tools, migrate it to new hosting, and secure project scale.
- Time frame: One month.
- Success indicators: Stability to scale to 8+ million user sessions per month with a monetization increased 8.5 times.
The Brand: Digital Publisher in Need of scaling
The project is a digital publishing platform, based on WordPress, utilizing the RTK.io programmatic infrastructure and ad operations solution (Taboola and Outbrain). The website features authentic content оn popular topics like wellness, technologies, travel, sports, and entertainment. All articles are original and created by the media’s team of writers.
Since launching in April 2019, the website’s monthly traffic has exceeded 8 Million users per month. Presently the website ranks globally around 23,000 in Alexa.
How did the project start?
But the owners were not satisfied with the business results – the monetization did not work as expected. While working on the project DevriX got more closely acquainted with the client’s goals and business operations. Both parties became aware of a clear growth opportunity.
At that time DevriX was endorsed by RTK for building a super-fast and lightweight digital publishing platform for another major media. Soon after that, the client requested to upgrade their site with a similar solution. So at the beginning of March 2019, we started to build the whole platform from scratch, utilizing the Multisite WordPress feature.
Rebuild the whole platform
When you run a digital publishing platform of this size, literally every second matter to a huge extent. The publishers’ business is very competitive and the margins are small. Every second the site is down thousands of dollars are lost and for every second delay in its performance, the loss is even bigger.
Here is why when re-building this project, the client needed:
- A stable system to allow scaling traffic to several million user sessions per month
- Optimal integration of all programmatic platforms
- A reliable hosting solution and 24/7 maintenance to never allow downtime
- A seamless UX experience to engage and monetize the traffic
New digital publishing platform
Just within one month, in April 2019, DevriX launched the new version of the WordPress website, utilizing the RTK.io technology, together with several other third-party native ad integrations. We created a faster and more stable platform, with quality code and technical solutions that enhance performance and monetize higher traffic.
Here is how DevriX delivered the project to the above requirements:
1. Build a multisite WordPress platform
We created a multisite network, allowing for the platform – together with all its programmatic implementations – to be multiplied into several digital publishing websites. The network is easily managed by a super admin and its potential growth is practically unlimited.
Here is our one-month roadmap agreement with the client with a step-by-step description of the work done:
- WordPress theme selection
- Child theme creation and adjusting it to the developed layouts
- RTK implementation as a basis and ads being available on inserting a shortcode
- Creation of several page layouts to serve ads
- Infinite scroll layout
- Gallery layout
- Snapchat compatible layout
- Quizzes pages
- Third-party native ads integration (Taboola and Outbrain, to name a few)
The list of technologies and third-party tools and service integration is long but just to name a few:
- Pagely CDN
- RTK – for header bidding ads
- Amazon A9
- Ad Lightning – to filter for bad ads
- OneSignal – for push notifications
- Google Analytics (through Google Tag Manager) – for tracking and statistics
- Facebook Pixel – for tracking and statistics
2. Migrate the website to an upgraded hosting account
To ensure the success of the project, DevriX partnered with Pagely to migrate the newly developed system to an advanced hosting with an upgraded plan that is a must to ensure scalability.
We tested several different combinations and recommended the following hosting set-up: dedicated database (M4) on top of VPS-2 plus a larger dedicated database.
3. Improve the ways the WordPress website was monetized
DevriX also worked on improving the user experience of the new platform. Monetization was improved by producing optimized layouts for ad serving and an infinite scroll for all archive pages. All development was done with a focus on yield management and ad stack governance on behalf of the business owners.
A solution that boosts monetization
The technical solution described above allowed for the scaling of the project in the months to follow, scaling up to 187 million page views monthly and increasing its monetization more than eight times.
Fast and stable performance
The new build ensured:
- Increased speed: Currently, the site’s speed, by Google PageSpeed tool, is 91/100 for desktop.
- Ultimate stability for high traffic: the site’s traffic back in March 2019 before the rebuild was about 1.4 million user sessions while for the second half of 2019 it was scaled up to eight-plus million monthly.
User engagement and popularity
- Improved UX solutions to engage users: The platform has an impressively low bounce rate of 7-8%, with an industry average of 15%.
- Growing popularity: Currently, the platform ranks about 23,000 at Alexa, on a global scale
That proves the excellent user engagement and content satisfaction, which eventually leads to higher ROI.
Ad-serving optimization is a big contributor to the project. The main success of this project was achieving the initial goal to increase monetization. Within several months the platform’s monetization grew up 8.5 times. 
This project is a very simple example of how quality development may dramatically improve website performance and monetization. Before and after the build the client used the same combination of a content management system – WordPress – and the RTK programmatic platform. But the business results differ almost ten times.
Last but not least, the digital publishing platform was created in only four weeks. That would not have been possible without the prior experience of both parties with the technologies and without working in a close partnership within a long-term WordPress development retainer.
Mario Peshev is the CEO of DevriX, a global WordPress agency serving industries from publishing to automotive and airline. He is also a core contributor to the WordPress project, an Inbound Certified marketer, and a multi-disciplined business owner with a wide scope of skills. He can be found on Twitter @no_fear_inc.
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