How to Improve Ad Placement for Publishers

26 October 2020

How can you make the most out of ads placement on your site?

When publishers consider how to increase site revenue, you can increase advertisers’ competition for your inventory (header bidding), increase search traffic to your website, or improve performance of your ad placement through ad layout optimization. All these areas come with their own pros and cons and you should try to balance priorities across them as your site grows.

We will discuss the dos and don’ts of ad placement on your site and how you can best optimize ad placement to maximize revenue without interfering with user engagement. We will also share some of our favorite ads optimizations and technologies here at Publift to help our publishers boost their income.

Balancing Customer Experience

Maximizing revenue from your site is a fine balance between considering the best performing ad units and considering user experience when planning ad campaigns. You want your site to provide the best possible user experience to continue building a loyal user base and increase the number of users coming to your site.

You also want users to hang around for as long as possible. Often, the best performing ads may be the more intrusive placements, which can harm user experience.

intrusive ad placements can be bad for user experience

Intrusive ads lead to poor user experience 

Google can penalise for bad ads

This kind of ad placement can have knock-on effects on your site as a whole, as poor website engagement is factored into your search rankings. Higher bounce rates and less time spent on page will mean you make less revenue from these impressions. So, intrusive placement could also mean Google will view your content as less relevant to users and lower you in search results.

Look at it from a user perspective

As Google recommends, taking a user perspective will really help you in best dealing with this balancing act.

What is the user intent on your site?

Are they there to browse through long-form content, to buy something they need or to use a tool you provide? Looking at the user journey to your site and what they expect when engaging with it can help you to better think about where your ad placements should be located and where placements should not be – this prevents placements from getting in the way of what your user is trying to achieve.

Where is user attention focused?

Think about what they do when they appear on a particular page. Are users reading the content in depth from left to right? Are they viewing a video halfway down the page and would video ads placement be helpful? Or are they trying to complete a task within your website? Areas where the user’s attention will be focused should be where you think of adding prime ad placements. You want to think about how you can integrate ads into this area of content without getting in the user’s way.

ad layout and ad placements should be based on user experience

Look at the Data

Choosing the right ad placement for your site should be guided by some data and research to know where your ad inventory performs best. There are a variety of tools and data points you can choose from to guide your decision and help you optimize your ad placement layout.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics gives you in-depth data on how users are interacting with your site and from which sources your traffic is coming from. It will help you find your top performing content, tell you if a particular landing page is performing well, whether your most avid users come from organic search or direct traffic for example, and which devices or countries drive the most valuable search traffic.

Heat and click maps

Products like Hotjar and Crazyegg provide website owners with great data on how users interact with their site on a large scale. Heatmaps highlight to you where users appear to spend most time on your page. It will help you understand what content they are looking at, how they interact with the page and what they expect from it. You may have ad placements appear underneath your content posts, but find no one scrolls below the fold on your page.

Click maps are similar to heatmaps, but they indicate where users are clicking on the page. These tools will also give you recorded screencasts of real users interacting with your site so you can watch in real time and better understand the user interactions occurring.

A/B Testing

You should conduct A/B testing for ad placements and site user experience to make the most of your website. Google provides a tool called Optimize which allows you to send search traffic to a specific link to see a number of different pages. This way, you can test optimizations of ad placement and the user experience.

Cool Ad Placement Optimizations

 Multisize ad placements

Having multisize ad placements appear on your website means you can send requests for multiple ad sizes in one bid request. This increases the amount of third party competition you have for an ad placement as you can now choose the highest bid for that impression from a range of advertisers with different creative placement sizes. If you’re using a 300×600 placement, consider including the 160×600 placement in the same request. If you’re running a 300×250 placement, consider using a 336×280 and/or 250×250 placement.

By increasing the flexibility of ad placements on your website, you can also reduce the chances of having no ad placement filled as you have opened up the number of advertisers available to bid on your inventory.

multisize ad creatives help publishers increase ad revenue

Sticky Ad Placements

Viewability is becoming increasingly important for advertisers as they try to optimize ad spend and tackle consumer ad blindness. Sticky ads can help you to optimize for viewability without harming user experience. Sticky ads are ads that stick to the user’s screen, even when they scroll the page.

Sticky ads give the user more time to see the ad, and we’ve found that they appear to perform better than other ad formats without harming user experience, with big increases in CTR, CPMs and nearly doubled viewability.

Again, you want to think from a user perspective when you choose these ads and think about what ads could appear intrusive. Generally, horizontal ads on the top or bottom of the page perform best for mobile, while vertical ad placements on the left or right of the screen perform best on desktop. Generally, you want your sticky ads’ height to be <250px and the ads must take up less than 25% of the screen at any time.

sticky ads increase publisher revenue

Ad Refreshes

Auto refreshes are a useful technique for increasing ad revenue on page, particularly when you have above average session times. Ad refreshes are triggered by a predefined logic and can be based on a number of triggers. They can be user action-based, for instance, based on scrolling or clicking, event-based or time-based.

These type of ads can help publishers grow their overall revenue by allowing you to serve more ad impressions to the same user. A publisher with three ads on a page with a time-based auto-refresh of one minute will have six impressions served to the one user if they spend more than one minute on the page. CPMs do, however, begin to decline with each consecutive refresh as advertisers are less likely to value these impressions as highly as the first ads in a session. Only refreshing ad units that are in view can keep your CPMs high while generating more impressions. Refreshing ad units that are not in view will definitely cause your CPMs to tank.

Lazy Loading

When a user visits a website, all the content is downloaded immediately before the user can begin to navigate the site. Lazy loading pages are built with placeholder content boxes that load initially. These are then replaced with content, or ads as the user scrolls down the page. This allows for faster page speed times as users don’t have to wait for ads that may never be in their view to see.

It also helps to increase the viewability score of your ad inventory, as you are not calling for ads until a user has begun to scroll, making it more likely for a user to see. Ad visibility is highly sought after by today’s advertisers so anything you can do to improve your ads in this way can help to increase the cpm you can charge.

The Publift team have found on mobile devices – ad units need to be called before they come in view. This is to combat how quickly mobile users scroll down and address slow internet connections like patchy 3G. Our Fuse platform actually allows publishers to decide, test and alter how many pixels before the ad unit will appear that the ad is loaded. No more manual code changes on the live site!

How Publift Help

 We have been doing this a long time and have a team of account managers dedicated to helping publishers optimize their ads’ layout. We have worked through trial and error on countless websites to find what works best. Our technology platform, Fuse, provides you with all the technologies and ad formats mentioned above, along with a host of the latest advancements in the Adtech world, to help our publishers increase their revenue and make their lives simpler. So why not get in contact and have one of our account managers analyze and optimize your website’s ad placements?

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