Written by Ben Morrisroe
22 Aug, 2019
“In the past few weeks, 3 of my clients have transitioned away from infinite scroll pages towards "load more" buttons in an effort to increase ad performance.” Pat, one of our Account Manager’s has been seeing a trend across our publisher group away from infinite scroll pages towards load more buttons. And it begs the question, what is the difference between infinite scroll pages and load more pages? And what are the pros and cons of either feature? Which sites are they more suited towards? Why is this important for publishers?
Let’s dive in.
What is Infinite Scroll?
Infinite scroll is exactly what it says on the tin, it's a webpage setup that allows a user to keep scrolling a page without reaching its “end”. When you scroll downward, toward the “bottom” of the page, it simply loads more content, providing an ever-growing and seemingly never-ending amount of material.
Why Implement Infinite Scroll
Infinite scroll is used most commonly on content formats where the user is browsing without necessarily looking for something specific like the infinite feeds of social media or entertainment content sites where content can be evergreen. By not providing the user with an end, they are more likely to continue scrolling and browsing through your content.
This continual browsing leads to more impressions on ads you have on the page. It means you can have more ads per page as most are not in view until the user has scrolled to a certain point. More impressions usually means more revenue.
The Downsides of Infinite Scroll
Apart from infinite scroll being seen as a bit of a UX nightmare from many designers in the field, infinite scroll may not always mean more money. Ads loading below the fold that may never be in the view of a user can have a dramatic impact on the CPMs you receive.
Viewability is one of the key metrics today in determining the CPM you will receive. If all of your ads are located all the way down the page where few users are going to see them, your viewability percentage is going to be substantially lower than if these units were front and centre on the page. Advertisers just aren’t going to pay for wasted ads that are rarely seen.
Not only that, but there is an optimal number of ads that can be on a page before your inventory starts to become saturated. There just won't be as many buyers willing to bid on your users and so CPMs will fall.
Viewability is one of the key metrics today in determining the CPM you will receive. If all of your ads are located all the way down the page where few users are going to see them, your viewability percentage is going to be substantially lower than if these units were front and centre on the page.
What are Load More Buttons
Load more buttons are a way to find a middle ground between classic pagination (site pages) and infinite scroll. It consists of a button at the bottom of the page that will load more content when clicked, giving the user the simple decision to see more or to reach the page end.
Why Implement Load More Buttons?
Load more pages are going to have increased visibility as ads will often load in view as a user loads the page. There is less opportunity for an ad unit to be left below the fold unseen and thus useless.
Load more buttons also help with site speed, a critical aspect in user experience and SEO rankings. Less content needs to load upfront for the user allowing pages to load up quickly. It is only once a user clicks the load more button, that the page must generate.
Based on a recent eCommerce usability experiment, Subjects generally browsed the most products on infinite scroll pages, followed by load more pages and standard pagination. What was noticed however was that users engaged and viewed the content for longer periods of time on the load more pages than on infinite scroll. This is obviously the priority when building an eCommerce page and may translate over to other forms of content where you wish to keep the user's attention for a longer period of time.
The Downsides of Load More Buttons
If you are switching from an infinite scroll setup, impressions will decrease. Users are just less likely to view as much of your site’s real estate and thus potential impressions will be lost.
Which Setup Is Right For Me?
As with everything in ad layout optimisation, it is all about testing to find the optimal layout and format for your site.
We must always remember the end goal and overarching metric we are always looking at should be revenue. CPMs will take a hit from infinite scroll pages as you are more at risk of unviewed impressions and you have far more inventory per page. But if this still means we can generate more income through more impressions and a slightly lower CPM, then this should be what we are looking at.
On top of this, you want to take into account the type of content you have and how users are going to interact and consume this content. Social media platforms know they can keep users engaged on the site longer by providing them with endless content. A news site or article-based site where users may be looking for a specific story or piece of information may need to be built around pages or load more buttons so users can easily find what they are looking for and navigate to specific areas of the site that interest them.
Your Advertising Strategy
Based on the pros and cons of each of these page types, they can be more suited to certain advertising strategies.
Sites which are looking to be a premium, brand-safe commodity with a sales team looking to attract premium advertisers and agencies will want to protect the performance of their ad units. They will want to have the maximum viewability and view time they can in order to satisfy these buyers and make them willing to pay a premium over the open exchange.
If you are selling a large proportion of your advertising directly or in private marketplace deals, then protecting the value of your impressions will be very important and will be more beneficial to you than maximising the potential impressions you could serve.
If you are going for a heavier programmatic strategy where all inventory is sold on the open exchange, then your CPM metric and viewability will be of less overall importance. Yes, they are good indicators of performance, but the overall goal will be maximising revenue and minimising your unfilled rate.
Can I have the Best of Both Worlds?
Yes, you can! (For the most part.) Lazy loading ad units with infinite scroll does help to maintain a high level of viewability. You will see a decrease in served impressions but will see a spike in CPMs due to the improvement. It is not an easy process to get right, however as there is a lot of tinkering in finding the correct page point at which to begin loading the ad unit to ensure you maintain page speed whilst making sure ads load in time for users to see them as they scroll down the page.
This is something our Account Managers at Publift spend a large portion of time on when onboarding sites with infinite scroll pages as it can have a real impact on the CPM you are able to achieve.
Lazy Loading Case Study
We recently added lazy loading to mobile ad units on one of our client sites, Oversixty.com.au. We requested ads to load when a user scrolls to within 400 pixels. With infinite scroll, we would look to try this implementation with every ad unit on the page.
This implementation resulted in an overall 20% decrease in ad impressions on the site as units that are not in view were not called. The result of this, though, was a 25% increase in CPM with viewability increasing from 45% to 78% and overall revenue increasing by 5%!
The key is finding the right recipe. If you think you might need some help, that’s what our team of adtech experts are here for.