If you ever driven down a major street or highway in any city whether it be Vegas, New York or even Salt Lake City, you’ll quickly notice the bombardment of loud billboards lining your commute. On a rare occasion though, you might see tall exit signs, buildings, electricity poles, and construction equipment blocking your view of these massive floating ads. More often than not these neglected billboards are virtually invisible to the driver and not well maintained. It makes sense, what kind of crazy advertiser would pay to have an ad up that no one will see?
In order for a billboard to be profitable they HAVE TO be seen. That’s why they are strategically placed and designed to catch the driver’s attention. Company’s will only pay big money for ads that will be seen. Take for example the largest billboard in New York City with ad spaces costing more than $100,000.
Sure, not every billboard is comparable to that of Times Square, but regardless of size, many of us see billboards every single day. They’ve become part of our day. Just like billboards, ads running on your site also need to be seen to be worthwhile. And just how advertisers lose money when people can’t see their billboards, they lose just as much when their digital ads aren’t viewable.
So why does this matter to publishers? By increasing the viewability of the ads on your site you can almost guarantee a higher payout for your ad spaces. To do that, you need to understand why viewability is so important, what makes your sight more or less viewable, and how you ensure your ads are viewable.
What is V-I-E-W-A-B-L-I-T-Y
First of all, viewability is not just a made up metric. Viewability measures the impressions that can actually BE SEEN by a user. In order for an ad to have any impact it has to first be seen or interacted with. A plastic surgery billboard tucked behind a construction crane will do nothing to influence whether or not you want that new nose because the message is hidden.
According to the IAM, a viewable impressions can be defined as an impression that is at least 50% percent visible for one second. Video must be viewed equally by 50% , but watched for 2 seconds. This standard is the bare minimum for an impression to be counted as viewable. That being said, each type of ad is different. More engaging ads might need less view time to be counted as viewable while others may need more to make a significant impact.
Ads that are far away from content, crowded between competing images, take too long to load, and are not optimized for your site design, all add to a decrease in viewability and an equal decrease in the worth of your ads. We will get into the details of what makes an ad more or less visible in just a moment. What you need to know is that if your ads don’t have a healthy amount of viewability, you will never get paid as much as you could for your ad real estate. The reason you run ads on your site is to give you the opportunity to pursue your passions profitably. If you’re using ad monetization as that means, then you should be getting the most out of your ad strategy.
What’S Hurting Your Viewability & How to Fix It
As we’ve said before, for an ad to be visible, it has to be seen. That doesn’t mean as long as it appears somewhere on your site it can be seen. Just like our billboard analogy, billboards that are behind something or far from where people travel never get seen. Ads that are hidden, require lots of scrolling, are crowded on the page, or are nowhere near quality content will never be viewed. It’s a waste of an advertiser’s money to run ads on a site that isn’t set up for ad placement.
Here are a few of the reasons you ads may be less viewable and what you can do to change that.
This probably sounds obvious, but advertisers can’t always know if the users on the sites they chose to target are using ad blockers. When ad blockers are installed on your reader’s browser, the space for the ad unit will load without any creative. Not only does that give an unfinished look on your site,but advertisers will not continue to pay for space that they cannot fill. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to fight this. Last January Forbes ran into this same issue and required all of it’s readers to disable ad blockers to access their content. Other publishers have done the same thing by simply asking their readers to take down the ad blocking software by explaining that ads are how content can be viewed for free. If a high percentage of your viewers are using this technology, it might not hurt to simply explain why viewing non intrusive ads is necessary.
- Build a user friendly ad strategy to begin with. This way your users will be less likely to ever want an ad blocker when browsing your site. To get help on how to build your strategy click HERE.
- Simply ask your readers to disable their ad blocker to access free quality content.
- Never have more than 3 ads viewable at a time.
Where you have your ads on your site plays a huge role in how they are viewed. Ads that are below the fold tend to perform less than ads on main pages, above the fold. Orphan ads, or sidebar ads so far beneath any content will get very low bids. Likewise, ads crowded around other ads or images are more likely to be skipped over and unnoticed. Give them room to breathe and to stand out. Never have more than 3 ads viewable at a time not overwhelm your readers and create too much competition for a single ad to get any attention. When deciding where you would want your ads, consider where your viewers eyes are likely to fall. This means any ad that requires intense scrolling or maneuvering to be viewed will not generate a high return for you or the advertisers and is not in a healthy location.
- Build page/post with ads in mind.
- Having an ad about ¾ down a page or ¼ just above the fold is great for viewability (IAB).
- Place ads on the most frequently viewed pages to deliver the best yield.
- Implement “sticky” ads that subtly stay on the page during the entire browsing session as you scroll. Sticky ads have great viewability.
- A/B test different ad locations and ad o types on different content to see what performs better.
Quality content brings in quality traffic, and high paying ads. Choose ad locations in close proximity of high performing content. The more people see your ads, the more you will be paid. Remember when you are creating content, or building new posts or pages, try to factor in your ad strategy and how much you want to be paid for your ads. The more visible you make your ads the more you’ll make.
Even with high quality content, poor web design can destroy your viewability. If you have a poor design it will be very difficult to fit your ads naturally into your layout. Our eyes focus on what we tell them to focus on. Your design can lead your readers to view your quality content and ads, or detract from them. Incorporate colors and line that lead you to your most valuable content. Make sure your site is clean and easy to navigate. Having a user friendly site should already be at the top of your publishing priorities anyways, now you just have to incorporate ads into that layout.
Likewise, your mobile layout has to be just as easy to navigate and attractive to your readers. More people are using their mobile devices to access information than their desktop, so it’s vital your mobile site is optimized for monetization. If you try to use your desktop layout for mobile, all of your sidebar ads will get pushed to the bottom of your page below your content. This will not only give you a limited return for your ads, but may appear very spammy to your readers. Mobile traffic is critical for your ad strategy and that’s why here at Monumetric we use a specifically focused mobile technology called Flight to make sure you have the best mobile layout. To see if Flight might work best for your mobile solution, click HERE.
- Place ads where ever your quality content lives.
- Create a clean symmetrical layout. Make sure your site is easily navigable.
- Build a separate mobile responsive ad layout specific to mobile impressions. Often simply switching desktop to mobile will not show the same ads.
- A/B test different ad sizes and on different sections of the page.
- Create room on your page for multiple ads, but try not to leave overly apparent empty space.
- Save any horizontal lines and long reference lists for the end of your page/post to let them know they have reached the end of the content.
When you have slow load times on your site, bounce rates skyrocket and revenue dips. Because your ads load independently from your website, they can have an even shorter view times than your actual content. Advertisers won’t want to spend money on ads that will most likely be skipped because the page took too long to load. If the user doesn’t stay on the page long enough, they will more than likely never see the ad.
- Run a site speed diagnostics test and see how you can optimize your site .
- Compress your images and eliminate unnecessary dense elements.
- If you’re server is too slow consider updating your web host.
- To see a detailed breakdown of how to speed up your site click HERE.
As a publisher you look at your site more than anyone else. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to improve your viewability without a fresh set of eyes. We know exactly what improvements you could make to grow your revenue because we’ve made the changes ourselves. Check out our free site analysis where you can team up with an expert monetization specialist who will offer you pressure free advice based on data, without the sales pitch. To see how you could improve your monetization strategy today, click HERE.