AMA with SpanishDict and PubNation Chris Cummings, CEO and Mike Miller, Dir. of Analytics & Rev


Hi everyone! My name is Mike Miller and I am the director of revenue and analytics at Curiosity Media. Today, Chris Cummings, the CEO of Curiosity Media and I are giving an AMA and I wanted to give you a few details about us and the site.

The main site we own and operate is SpanishDict is the largest Spanish reference site on the web, serving more than 14 million unique users and 160 million pageviews per month. Nearly all of our ad revenue comes from programmatic advertising, with the majority of that coming from header bidding. We use Prebid.js to manage our header bidding auction and have 15 different partners that run in the header.

We also own Fluencia is a subscription based, language learning application that empowers users to learn at their own pace with interactive exercises, step-by-step instruction, and personalized feedback.

I am still relatively new to the world of ad operations. I have worked at Curiosity Media for close to 3 years. I started as a software engineer, eventually became a software engineer working on ad ops, then became our director of revenue and analytics. Outside of work, I love all things outdoors and just returned from a ski trip to Colorado.

Chris is the founder and CEO of Curiosity Media. He’s passionate about education, technology, entrepreneurship, and riding his electric skateboard to work.


This is Chris here signing on live for the AMA. I look forward to the discussion…


Hi Mike and Chris, thanks for taking the time to answer questions!

How big of an issue has ad quality been for you and what have you been doing to resolve it?


Hi Mike and Chris,
What’s a big thing that you’re hoping to implement on your sites in 2017?


Ad quality is a constant battle. We rely almost exclusively on programmatic demand, and as a result, we see quality problems pop up regularly. The biggest issues we face are related to slow creatives and in-banner video. These can create jank on the page, reducing pages per visit and repeat visits. We use user-complaints submitted through PubNation to track these ads down and remove them, but it is an ongoing game of whack-a-mole.


Hi Ben,

We are really excited about trying to improve latency and optimize auction timeouts. I am also very interested in server-to-server integrations, but I want to wait and see how that really shakes out.


Hi guys,
Do you guys think that you’ll be moving to more of an amp style page layout and subsequent implementation of AMP of your programmatic driven ads? (a la the amp implementation currently available in prebid)


Thanks Chris!

Do you see a larger share of these types of ads in Q1 when ad spend is lower?


Hi guys! What resources do you use to stay up to date on how the industry is evolving?


We are going to experiment with AMP this quarter on some pages that are not big revenue drivers. We want to see if it helps improve the UX, increase page views, and influences our SEO rankings. If that goes well, we are then going to try to layer on ad demand onto those pages. I think it will be some time before programmatic is broadly compliant with AMP specs, and there are questions related to how much control we’ll have over the site if we use AMP. But it’s something that we are investing.


Yes - we have noticed more of these low quality ads in Q1.


Hi Alex,

I read AdExchanger and admonsters daily and try to read any white papers that come out from our advertising partners. The adops subreddit is also a pretty good source of information, but I think one of the biggest sources of information has always been talking to other publishers.


Hey Guys,

I have some questions about creatives. When you say slow creatives is this caused by bad code in the creative which causes it to load slowly in the browser? Also, can you speak about other problems that can occur with creatives like malware and mobile redirects. How does this code get into the creatives?


Hi, Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions. Question: I read above that has 15 different partners in the header. We currently are running 7 in a Prebid wrapper. Do you recommend moving toward 15? Assuming the 7 we currently use are among the most ‘popular’ ones, what do you think the yield increase would be from beginning to include 8 more? Josh


Hey Chris! Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA.

What kind of strategies does use to generate quality traffic?

What is one thing you think sovrn could do better?


Hi Chris,

Have you had any experience with “Instant Articles” on Facebook and if so, what has been your experience in terms of the revenue through their ad program for independent publishers?


How does SpanishDict use seasonal/pattern traffic-related data? ie. Beginning of the academic calendar, week after spring break, etc.


How much of a threat does Google pose to your future with translations being read out on Google Now and generally Google skipping websites in favor for its own translation within search.


Hey Wes,

When I say slow creatives, it can mean a creative that makes lots of network requests, loads really large resources or is doing something computationally intensive such as animations. For malware and mobile redirects, they get into the creative either from a black hat buyer adding it intentionally, or from a regular buyer being hacked.


Hi Josh - We’ve seen increases in overall revenue come from every partner we work with. Some of the partners we’ve added, though, did not work well on our site, and we removed them. The most important thing is to be able to A/B test the performance of bidders, and only work with those that ad to overall revenue and don’t harm the site by introducing ad quality or site speed problems.