Setupad Review – The Good and Bad for 2023
If you already have a hefty amount of traffic coming to your website each month, you might be curious about programmatic advertising as an additional source of revenue.
For publishers, the easy-to-use gold standard of programmatic advertising is called the header bidding wrapper, which lets you deliver bid requests in real-time to multiple demand partners in order to increase the value of your ad inventory—and more competition for your ad space equals more revenue for you.
According to Statista, roughly 70% of online publishing websites in the U.S. used header bidding in 2022. Pretty substantial, right?
Now get this—only 16% of the top 100,000 sites in the United States and only 8% of the top 100,000 sites worldwide used it that same year.
Needless to say, this is still a relatively newer way of advertising, and Setupad is one of the leading tools that can help you strike while the iron is hot.
You’ll need at least 100,000 monthly visitors on your website to get started, but if you’ve got that kind of traffic, then Setupad could definitely be worth checking out.
Setupad: The Good and the Bad
Setupad makes it easy to get started. Simply fill out a form with your website information and wait for approval. From there, you’ll hop into an elegant and welcoming dashboard that hosts all of the data you’ll need for monitoring your ad revenue.
Once you’re all signed up, Setupad provides you with an account manager to create new ad units for you and familiarize you with managing your account. This has its pros and cons (because having an account manager may feel like a luxury to some and a nuisance to others), but if it increases your ad revenue in the end, you may not mind either way.
What Setupad Is Good At
Unique technology: At its core, Setupad utilizes header bidding technology to connect your ad inventory to over 25 demand sources simultaneously, including Google Ad Exchange (Google AdX), supply-side platforms (SSPs), demand-side platforms (DSPs), and direct deals. This creates a real-time, unified auction for each ad impression, ultimately pushing buyers like Google to increase their bids and pay more to win your impressions.
Additionally, Setupad has built proprietary solutions like its Viewable Bid Optimization on top of header bidding. This is a smart ad refresh algorithm that maximizes revenue while complying with ad refresh policies. It analyzes user behavior and refreshes ads only when viewable—earning you more money while also providing a smoother experience for your audience.
By combining multi-source header bidding with thoughtful optimizations, Setupad provides cutting edge technology for publishers seeking to boost their earnings.
Comprehensive UI: Setupad offers an intuitive user interface that makes it easy for publishers to monitor and optimize their ad performance.
The main dashboard provides at-a-glance data of all your important ad metrics like revenue, requests, fill rate, and viewability. It has a clean layout with graphs so you can better understand your overall earnings and performance.
Setupad’s dashboard also brings together top header bidding solutions like Amazon TAM, Google Open Bidding, and Prebid, giving you a single point to optimize competing demand sources.
For closer monitoring of trends and data patterns, the reporting section tracks metrics on a daily or hourly basis. You can even view detailed numbers on effective cost per thousand impressions (eCPM), click-through rate, and more.
Setupad also integrates directly with Google Analytics for each site. This means you can cross-reference Setupad’s ad data with your overall site analytics for deeper insights all in one place.
Altogether, the platform’s clean organization of analytics, integrations, bidding data, and reporting provides a simplified way to manage and get the most out of your ad space.
Fast, cloud-based infrastructure: Setupad has an ad server that enables server-to-server connections for demand partners. This single-call approach provides much faster bid responses than traditional client-side integrations, meaning you’ll have more ad impressions filled successfully.
Additionally, Setupad’s own lightweight auction manager is hosted on a global content delivery network. By fetching ads from the nearest server point, your auctions will start earlier and your ads will load faster—improving both the user experience and ad fill rates.
Setupad also spreads its distributed cloud infrastructure across Azure, DigitalOcean, and Google Cloud. This provides better uptime and worldwide availability, so users will have speedy access to auctions no matter where they are.
By combining fast server-side bidding and a distributed cloud backend, Setupad ensures low latency and swift ad delivery, which can further lead to higher user engagement and lower bounce rates.
Suite of solutions: In addition to its full-service header bidding wrapper solution, Setupad offers several other options to fit publisher needs.
For high-quality AdSense publishers who want to improve their earnings beyond the demand of Google AdSense, the Prebid Manage Account service grants access to Google Ad Manager, Google Ad Exchange (Google AdX), and Setupad’s optimization technologies.
Setupad’s Prebid AdSense product allows you to combine the demand from your existing Google AdSense account with its premium programmatic demand partners. This creates a unified auction that boosts your ad rates and revenue, and it also utilizes Setupad’s Prebid Server for faster server-side bidding and auto-targeting supply-side platforms (SSPs) based on geography.
If you already have direct supply-side platform relationships and Google Ad Manager accounts, Setupad’s Prebid Self-Serve product allows you to control every aspect of your header bidding setup—you can create and configure ad units, enable/disable SSPs, set timeouts, add server-side partners, adjust currency rates, and more. Setupad handles all the prebid library hosting and updating so you can make changes that go live almost immediately.
Lastly, Setupad’s Consent Management Platform (CMP) provides an easy way to avoid potential privacy fines by making your sites compliant with laws and regulations through the collection of user consent for data usage and tracking purposes. It’s fully approved by Google, IAB, and adheres to GDPR regulations around transparency and consent.
No matter the size of your website or your existing ad integrations, Setupad has a header bidding solution that you can implement and start monetizing with right away.
Flexible advertising: Setupad provides great flexibility and control over the types of ads you can display on your site.
First, the platform doesn’t force intrusive or annoying ad formats that could drive visitors away. You get to choose the styles and types of creatives that best match your audience and site aesthetics.
For further customizations, Setupad’s intelligent content recommendations can analyze user behavior and suggest relevant sponsored content to keep your visitors engaged. This way, ads are contextually natural rather than totally random.
If you’re interested in providing a more seamless visual experience, Setupad offers native advertising that perfectly blends into the look and feel of your site. With sponsored content that matches your site’s layout and style, users can enjoy your site without encountering distracting eyesores.
Video ads are another great way to capture visitor attention, and Setupad gives you the capability to use in-stream, out-stream, and other video ad formats. This provides yet another opportunity to unlock engaging new inventory options for monetization.
With the freedom to shape the type, format, and placement of your ads, Setupad helps you provide tailored experiences where ads are insightful rather than disruptive.
Yield Formula: Setupad’s yield formula and ad revenue calculator provide sophisticated yet easy ways to model different scenarios and determine your website’s revenue potential.
The on-screen calculator lets you experiment by adjusting key variables that drive ad revenue, such as the number of users, user loyalty, engagement, ads per page, and eCPM.
Each variable has an adjustable slider that you can move around to see how it can impact monthly and yearly revenue projections. This instantly helps publishers understand how each individual revenue driver can unlock greater earning potential.
Chrome extension: Setupad has developed a Chrome browser extension that overlays your ads with controls for reporting problematic creatives. This allows you to inform Setupad of any unwanted or malicious ads and block them from showing up in places they shouldn’t.
To use the extension in the wild, all you have to do is click Report Ad and the banner itself, and the extension will automatically capture and send all the information needed for Setupad to block that advertiser.
Beyond blocking ads, the extension also provides transparency into the bidding and auction process. Publishers can see the winning bid SSP and the cost per thousand impressions, as well as other SSP bids and daily performance metrics for that ad placement.
With the ability to monitor auction performance and report malicious ads to block, the Setupad Chrome extension is a powerful tool for publishers to control the quality of creatives on their site.
Guaranteed revenue increases: Setupad promises publishers a minimum 30% increase in ad earnings compared to Google AdSense or Google AdX revenue. This guarantee applies when Setupad’s solution is implemented properly according to its recommendations.
In general, most Setupad users see revenue boosts in excess of the 30% minimum, while many clients have achieved increases of 100-300% in ad rates. In some cases, certain publishers have earned 390% higher eCPM rates.
Setupad recommends publishers run an initial test to estimate potential revenue increases for their specific site. Of course, results will vary based on things like site traffic, ad placement implementations, and other factors, but testing still provides tailored projections.
With its guarantee of at least 30% better ad rates, Setupad has an offer that’s hard to pass up.
WordPress plugin: With a free Setupad plugin that sees regular updates, publishers can place and manage ads directly within their WordPress sites. You can insert code for direct ad placements, images, ads.txt, and scripts for headers and footers.
The plugin provides additional layout options to align ad units and add custom CSS styling, so ads can be placed before or after posts, within content, beside images, in comments, and more. Granular device targeting lets you specify where ads appear on desktop, tablet, and mobile. For better performance, “lazy loading” of ads is also supported.
For content monetization, you can add a customizable related posts section with grid display options. Placements can even be inserted between these recommendations.
With the ability to place code and track placements through a simple plugin, Setupad removes the need to edit code or files within WordPress. Everything is handled seamlessly within the existing CMS interface, making it an impressive free tool for publishers using WordPress to maximize their ad revenue.
Excellent Resources: Setupad’s website has a detailed library of articles explaining all of the available ad formats so that publishers can better understand how to monetize their inventories with custom ads.
The company blog also contains hundreds of posts for guiding publishers who are just starting out, and there are many case studies that showcase client success stories.
Setupad’s YouTube channel hosts dozens of short, informative videos that quickly introduce publishers to the platform, and it has a lively social media presence across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
With in-depth articles, case studies, videos, and active social accounts, Setupad provides publishers many avenues to learn about ad strategies and industry best practices.
Setupad’s Potential Drawbacks
Ad unit creation hurdles: One primary complaint that has surfaced among publishers is that Setupad requires you to go through account managers to configure new ad units and placements. For publishers who prefer having full self-service access to manage their own ad inventory, having to contact Setupad for new ad units can feel restrictive and limiting on flexibility.
Of course, many publishers may feel that having an assigned account manager is actually more of a benefit than a drawback, but it does reduce autonomy for users who want to control ad ops tasks independently.
Overall, while Setupad is generally praised for its responsive customer support, some technically-savvy publishers may still prefer the greater freedom of self-serve ad management dashboards versus needing to contact an account rep for making changes.
Less-than-ideal payouts: When starting out with Setupad, publishers need to wait 60 days after their first month of service ends to receive an initial payout. This effectively equates to about a 90-day wait to get paid the first time.
For some publishers, this elongated timeline is less enticing than other monetization platforms that pay out faster. However, after that first payment, Setupad distributes earnings on a monthly basis—just two months later.
There is also a minimum payout threshold publishers must hit each month before earnings are released. The minimum stands at €100, which is around $109 USD at the time of writing this. Publishers have to earn above this amount to get paid or else they’ll have to wait until the next pay period once they’ve eclipsed the minimum.
The waiting period and minimums likely relate to Setupad’s managed payment operations across advertisers and partners in its monetization ecosystem. This may create upfront friction versus other potentially faster and lower-threshold platforms, so keep that in mind.
Approved publisher requirements: Setupad has eligibility standards that publishers must meet, which can be challenging for owners of some sites.
- Your website content must comply with Setupad’s quality standards and policies. All sites are reviewed to ensure brand safety.
- You need at least 100,000 monthly visitors to your site.
- Approved publishers must agree to add Setupad’s ads.txt file to their sites and utilize all of Setupad’s integrated demand sources, including Google AdX.
These prerequisites create a high bar and may exclude newer or niche sites that can’t hit the traffic numbers or prefer not to be restricted on demand partners.
Then again, they also help Setupad ensure publisher success and maintain quality control over its user network—at the expense of broader accessibility.
No notifications for ads.txt modifications: A small number of publishers have expressed an issue with Setupad for not proactively notifying clients when it makes updates to the ads.txt file implemented on sites. For publishers who want to keep close track of their authorized digital sellers, not receiving notice from Setupad about these changes can be frustrating and feel like there’s a lack of transparency.
Setupad likely handles periodic ads.txt updates internally as routine operational adjustments to optimize demand partners, so they won’t be very relevant for most people. Still, some publishers would prefer to know when changes happen so they can stay updated on the authorized sellers for their site.
In the end, this appears to be a very minor pain point raised by only a small number of Setupad’s clients, but it highlights an area that could improve the overall publisher experience.
Setupad Plans and Pricing
Simply put, Setupad is risk-free to use, and there are no monthly subscription fees. As long as your website gets approval, you are good to go—and Setupad only takes a percentage of your ad revenue as commission.
It’s not perfectly clear to us what this percentage is, though we’ve seen reports of it being around 20%.
Setupad also does not provide public pricing for its SaaS and self-serve products. Instead, it takes an individualized quote approach based on each publisher’s unique characteristics and goals.
Precise costs for offerings such as the Prebid wrapper solution or self-serve tools are not listed on the website. If you’re interested, you’ll have to inquire with Setupad to receive custom pricing tailored to your site’s specific traffic, inventory, and objectives.
Perhaps the best part of Setupad is that there is absolutely no upfront volume commitment required to start using and testing the platform.
Instead of large upfront costs, Setupad takes a cut of your revenue as commission from the ad earnings it generates for your site. This revenue share model aligns incentives for both sides—because if you grow, so does Setupad.
Unfortunately, Setupad doesn’t have any set rates for the exact percentage of commission that it takes, claiming to prefer an individual approach with individual pricing agreements that depend on multiple factors. It’s not clear exactly what these factors are, however, so you may feel like you’re negotiating a bit blindly.
Assuming the commission rate is 20%, publishers get paid the remaining 80% of ad revenue in Euros. The first payout comes 60 days after your initial month of service has finished, once you pass the €100 monthly minimum threshold.
Earnings below €100 roll over month-to-month until you surpass the minimum for payout. You can receive payments conveniently via bank transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, Wise, Revolut, and Paysera.
By promising a 30% increase and only taking a commission (which is assumed to be under that 30% mark), Setupad offers publishers a zero-risk way to unlock more value from ad inventory. If it doesn’t drive growth, you pay nothing.
This mutually beneficial model provides flexibility for publishers to tap into Setupad’s platform risk-free and only share the upside. There are no scary minimum commitments or upfront costs.
SaaS and Self-Serve products
Along with its core revenue share model, Setupad offers SaaS software products such as its customized Prebid wrapper and self-serve platforms.
However, precise pricing for these products is not listed publicly on the Setupad website. When we inquired about costs, Setupad responded by saying that pricing is determined based on each individual publisher’s website and needs.
We would have preferred to see example price ranges for more transparency, as this would give serious buyers a ballpark idea of what the SaaS and self-serve solutions would cost for them. Nevertheless, Setupad seems to prefer custom pricing that varies on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll need to contact Setupad and share specifics about your site to receive a personalized quote.
We have no hang-ups about recommending Setupad for large publishers looking for a full-service monetization platform to maximize earnings on established sites. It delivers risk-free results, it has a ton of customized header bidding wrapper solutions, and it’s easy to get started.
Setupad does come with some minor turn offs, however, such as requiring an account manager in order to create new ad units and not listing any set prices for the share of ad revenue it takes as commission, but the risk of trying it out is almost certainly outweighed by the potential reward.
As long as you have 100,000 monthly visitors, adding programmatic advertising to your website via Setupad is a no-brainer—especially with its guarantee of at least a 30% increase over Google AdSense and Google AdX when implemented according to recommendations.