How to Improve Ad Viewability

Have you ever published an ad with a solid creative and engaging call-to-action that just wasn’t gaining any traction? If the ads on your website aren’t generating high levels of click-throughs or conversions, despite your best efforts, then you might have an ad viewability problem.

Ad viewability measures whether an online ad has been seen by a website visitor. If an ad isn’t seen, it can’t generate engagement, conversions, or any of the other results the advertiser was looking to achieve. 

Ad viewability is so important for both publishers and advertisers that it’s actually been turned into a metric. Publishers can track the number of times the ads on their websites have been put in front of users and then report on that metric to their advertisers. The specifics of how ad viewability is tracked will depend somewhat on the ad manager or the ad platform that the publisher is using, but in most cases, it’s tracked in real-time on an impression-by-impression basis. Each impression is measured, and the resulting data is provided to the publisher to do with it what they wish.

Advertisers, especially large advertisers, will look at a publication’s ad viewability metrics when deciding how to invest their budgets. It makes sense that brands want to spend their advertising dollars on the most valuable media.

As a publisher, then, the next logical question is how to improve ad viewability.

Ad viewability is influenced by a number of factors. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an advertising organization that develops industry standards, with the following factors, have the greatest impact on ad viewability:

  • Latency
  • Website Design
  • Engaging Content
  • Advertising Technology
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Publishers who are interested in improving ad viewability should break down their approach into 5 main stages: Benchmarking, Analysis, Planning, Executing, and Measurement. These stages are important, because you can’t expect to jump straight into planning and executing a strategy without first running an analysis to see where you’re at or looking at industry benchmarks to set realistic goals for where you’d like to be.

Once you’ve gone through that process and determined that your current ad viewability metric is not where you’d like it to be, you can get down to the real work.

How to Improve Ad Viewability in 5 Steps

Dozens, if not hundreds, of factors, influence ad viewability. For the sake of this article, we’ve boiled it down to the most essential elements. If you want to get started improving ad viewability right away, begin with these 5 steps.

Step 1: Speed Up Page Load Times

Lengthy page load speeds are a killer for digital publishers. Although we know that websites filled to the brim with display advertising can have higher load times, you want to do everything possible to bring those page load times down to a reasonable level. The faster ads render on your website, the greater your viewability metric will be.

If you’re not sure where your website falls in the spectrum of page load times, use a tool like Google’s Pagespeed Insights to find out.

Step 2: Decrease Page Length

Shorter content is easier for people to consume and it generally has lower bounce rates. Google’s own algorithm even favors short form content. If you want more people to see the ads on your website, start by tightening up your existing website content and making sure ads are placed “above the fold.” If there is a reason you need to post longer content, for example if you’re a news publisher, then consider adding an infinite scroll feature.

Step 3: Make Your Website Responsive

You’ve probably heard of responsive website design. It’s been a buzzword for years. But it’s more than just a passing fad or an advertising trend. Responsive ads actually provide better user experiences and they lead to greater ad viewability. Ask your web developer for assistance if you need help making your website responsive.

Step 4: Pay Attention to Sidebar Content

When was the last time you looked closely at your sidebar content? If it’s been a while, it might be time for a checkup. Sidebar content is usually presented in each responsive template, and it’s possible that certain ads aren’t showing up when your website content is amplified on a smartphone or other mobile device. Do your due diligence to make sure all sidebar ads are visible as users move through your website on their mobile devices.

Step 5: Keep Track of the Metrics

You can’t improve ad viewability if you’re not paying attention to what’s going on. When you keep track of the metrics, and then provide those metrics to advertisers as part of your ongoing reporting capabilities, you give yourself more opportunity to learn and improve. Tracking ad viewability on an ongoing basis is the only way to catch downward trends before they become a real issue, so you can work on the other areas of improvement.

Ad viewability goes hand-in-hand with ad serving, with some platforms making it easier or harder to manage campaigns and repeatedly test for performance. To learn more about how to find the best ad serving software, click here.

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