How Denník N boosted ad revenue per session by 61% without compromising on subscribers

22. February 2024

In the world of digital publishing, where content is king and reader experience reigns supreme, Dennik N, Slovakia's premier independent news source, decided to revitalize its approach to advertising strategy, bolstering ad revenue without sidelining its subscription-first ethos.

Meet Denník N, not just any news outlet

Founded in 2014 by journalists in response to media purchase by an oligarch, newly established Dennik N has become a symbol of journalistic integrity. Now, a pioneer with nearly 70,000 active subscribers, Denník N has crafted a successful reader-centric business model. Their innovative spirit led them to develop REMP, a unique platform tailored for subscription management and marketing automation, now aiding tens of publishers globally in growing subscriber revenue.

Navigating the ad-tech maze in a subscription-centric world

With subscriptions driving 56% of Denník N's revenue and ad earnings playing second fiddle at 15%, the priorities were crystal clear. However, their internally-developed ad tech, primarily leaning on their own implementation of Google Ad Manager and direct sales, lacked the diversity and dynamism needed in today's digital ad space. The shared developer capacities between ad stack development and product innovation often led to delays in delivering campaigns, increased internal costs, and a series of inefficiencies.

Tomas Kalman, Sales Consultant at Denník N, highlights the balancing act of maintaining a pristine site designed for favorable reading experience and subscription-first approach, while managing advertising needs and tech-limitations. 

In light of these challenges, and striving for a solution that aligns with their vision, Denník N partnered with FatChilli for Publishers, an experienced Google Certified Publishing Partner, for a collaborative effort to refine their ad-tech framework.

Hidden challenges in ad revenue enhancement

Once our collaboration started, we uncovered a few under-the-radar challenges that were impacting Denník N's ad revenue:

  • Header bidding, previously not implemented, limited the scope for diversifying demand sources. 
  • The existing system's rigidity offered little room for flexibility or growth.
  • A knowledge gap existed within the team, not previously identified due to a focus on other priorities.
  • Developer resources, already stretched thin, faced challenges in fostering innovation and ensuring swift implementation.
  • 3rd-party non-programmatic ad network's scripts were loading suboptimally, leading to lost ad revenue potential. (Actually a common issue in the digital publishing industry that can significantly hinder ad performance.)

A new blueprint for ad-tech maze

When we joined forces, it was like Denník N got a map for the ad-tech maze with the success spots clearly marked. The introduction of FatChilli's cutting-edge ProTag solution didn't just sprinkle some tech magic, but transformed Denník N's ad framework. The change was grounded in a thorough overhaul of ad operations, aligning with Denník N's commitment to a subscription-centric model. By taking full responsibility for the ad tech development, we freed Denník N’s developers to allow more time for what they are good at: pioneering product development. 

Read: The story of by Dennik N, a free digital product for increased reader engagement and subscriptions

More than just workflow rearrangement, advanced ad solutions were integrated into Denník N's subscription system, REMP, ensuring a seamless integration that respects the sanctity of the highest-tier subscribers by keeping their spaces ad-free. This wasn't just about implementing new tools; it was about creating a harmonious ecosystem where subscribers and ads coexist without stepping on each other's toes.

Measuring success: The impact of strategic ad innovations

Now for the juicy part: the results, which became evident almost immediately. The shift was incremental:

  • Year-over-year revenue per session increased by a staggering 61%, marking a significant leap in profitability and efficiency.
  • eCPM skyrocketed by 62%, defying the global downtrends in 2023
  • A 31% boost in ad viewability increased both user engagement and advertiser interest.
  • The introduction of header bidding diversified Denník N's ad ecosystem, reducing Google’s share on programmatic ads from 95% to 74%.
  • The strategy leveraged unfilled but highly viewable Ad positions and turned them into new inventory for non-programmatic ad providers. This approach created 20 times more ad opportunities compared to the previous months.

But the innovations aren't just about the numbers…

  • Crucially, this substantial growth was achieved without adding any new ad units, in adherence to Denník N's specific condition to not overburden readers. Instead, we focused on refining and optimizing existing ad placements, which led to new video ad capabilities and sticky formats on desktop and mobile, each designed to integrate seamlessly into the reader's journey.
  • FatChilli's proprietary solution to manage ad block inventory effectively recaptured lost ad visibility.
  • Marked improvement in CTR, indicating higher user interaction with advertisements.
  • A Better Experience for Readers: One of the most significant advantages of this collaboration was the improved user experience. With optimized ad placements and fewer ads needed to meet revenue goals, readers enjoy cleaner, faster-loading pages, contributing to increased engagement and satisfaction.
  • Technical inefficiencies were addressed and the script loading process was cleaned up, ensuring that ads are served faster and more effectively. 

A screenshot showcasing the unobtrusive ad units on Denník N's website

Through Denník N's eyes

According to Tomas Kalman, the landscape of Denník N's advertising has been unquestionably changed. The introduction of new ad formats, the autonomy to launch video ads, and the seamless integration of sticky formats have not only enhanced the aesthetic and functional appeal of their site but also opened new revenue avenues. 


Sales Consultant of Dennik N
Partnering with FatChilli meant we got things done faster, improved our ad sales, and let our developers focus on important stuff, in this case product development. What I really appreciate about working with FatChilli is their vast know-how, how quick they are, and how effectively they get things done. I'd recommend them to other publishers in a second.

Synergy of subscriptions and advertising for success

Wrapping up, with the right strategic ally and an advanced tech stack, you can turn ad tech challenges into opportunities for growth and revenue enhancement, without compromising your valued subscribers. Denník N exemplifies this beautifully, showcasing that the right approach can bring subscriptions and advertising into a fruitful and impactful synergy. 

If you're wondering how the intersection of subscriptions and advertising can become your strength rather than conflict, reach out to [email protected] or subscribe to our newsletter for more publisher insights and success stories.