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Improving Ad Placements To Increase Revenue For Publishers

Ben Morrisroe, Marketing Coordinator

27 March 2016

Your website is ticking away, but there is always room for improvement. What should you be doing to make sure you're making the most you can from your website?

When looking to increase the revenue you as a publisher can make from a site, there are a number of avenues you can go down. You can increase the competition for your inventory (header bidding), increase the traffic to your website, or you can improve the performance of your ad placements through ad layout optimisation. All of these areas come with their own pros and cons and you should try to balance growth in them all as your site grows. (Our Fuse platform can help you with them all!).

In this article, we are going to focus on the do’s and don’ts of ad layouts on your website and how you can best optimise your ad positionings to maximise revenue without interfering with user engagement. We will also be sharing some of our favourite optimisations and technologies here at Publift to help our publishers boost their income.

Balancing Customer Experience

Maximising the revenue you get from your website is a fine balance between looking at the best performing ad units and thinking about user experience. You want your website to provide the best possible user experience so you can continue to build a loyal user base and increase the number of users coming to your website.

You also want these users to hang around for as long as possible. Very often the best performing ads may be the more intrusive placements,which can harm user experience and give your users a bad experience.

intrusive ad placements can be bad for user experience

Intrusive ads lead to poor user experience 

Google can penalise for bad ads

These kinds of ad formats can have knock-on effects on your website 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. It will also mean Google will view your content as less relevant to users and so will begin lowering you in the search engine results.

Look at it from a user perspective


As Google recommends, looking at it from a users perspective will really help you in best dealing with this balancing act.

What is the user trying to accomplish on your site?

Are they there to browse through long-form content? Are they trying to buy something they need? Are they there to use a tool you provide? Looking at the user's journey to your website and what they are expecting when engaging with your site can help you to better think about where your ads should be located and where they should not be, to prevent them getting in the way of what your user is trying to achieve.

Where is their attention likely to be focused?

Think about what they do when viewing a particular page. Are they reading the content in depth from left to right? Are they viewing a video halfway down the page? 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 without getting in the user's way.

ad layout and ad placements should be based on user experience

Looking at the Data


Choosing the right ad placements for your website 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 look at to guide your decision and help you optimise your ad placement layout.

Google Analytics

Google analytics will give you in-depth data on how users are interacting with your website and from which sources your traffic is coming from. It will help you in finding your top performing pages, where your most avid users come from and which devices or countries drive the most valuable traffic.

Heat and click maps

Products like Hotjar and Crazyegg provide website owners with great data on how users interact with their website on a large scale. Heatmaps highlight to you where users spend the most time on your page. It will help you with understanding what they are looking at, how they interact with the page and what they expect from it. You may have ad placements 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 website so you can watch in real time and better understand how users are interacting with your site.

A/B Testing

You should always be A/B testing your ad placements and your sites user experience in order to make the most of your website. Google provides a tool called Optimize which allows you to send traffic to a specific link to a number of different pages so you can test optimisations to ad placements and the user experience.

Some Cool Ad Optimisations


Multisize ad placements

Having multisize ad placements on your website means you can send requests for multiple ad sizes in one bid request. This increases the amount of competition you have for an ad placement as you are now taking the highest bid for that impression from a range of advertisers with different creative sizes. if you're using a 300x600, consider including the 160x600 in the same request. If you're running a 300x250, consider using a 336x280 and/or 250x250

By increasing the flexibility of ad placements on your website, you are also decreasing the chances of having no ad 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 optimise their ad spend and try to tackle consumer ad blindness. Sticky ads can help you to optimise for viewability without harming your 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 look at the ad and we have found that they perform far better than other ad formats without harming user experience, with big increases in CTRs, CPMs and nearly doubled viewability.

Again, you want to think from a user perspective when placing these ads and think about what could feel intrusive. Generally speaking 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 ad height to be <250px and 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.

They can help publishers grow their overall revenue by allowing you to serve more ad impressions to the same user. A publisher with 3 ads on a page with a time-based auto-refresh of 1 minute will have 6 impressions served to the one user if they spend more than 1 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 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 of 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 load.

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 to be seen. Ad visibility is highly sought after by today's advertisers so anything you can do to improve this 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 comes into view, 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 optimise their ad layout. We have worked through trial and error on countless websites to find what works best. Our technology platform, Fuse, provides you with all of 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 analyse and optimise your websites ad placements?



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