Viewability best practices

Use the viewability best practices list below to learn about which areas you should address for better viewability results.

Overall design and layout

Page length

Short form content yields higher viewability, therefore set pages to have only one fold. If you must have longer form content, enable infinite scroll. Learn how to place tags on a page with infinite scroll.

Latency

Latency is caused from a number of issues, one of which is passbacks. The reduction of latency from passbacks increases viewability. The elimination of passbacks improves viewability metrics.

This can drastically increase the viewability of your video inventory, because when a video loads faster, viewers are less likely to leave before the video starts playing.

Optimize for speed and responsiveness: Ads load faster and have better viewability rates on speedy and responsive sites and apps. This can be particularly important in emerging markets with slower connection speeds. Sites and apps can be optimized with these three tips:

  • Explore lazy loading for article pages, which means waiting to load the video and serve an ad until someone scrolls down further on your page. Infinite scroll is also a form of lazy loading, is when the browser scroll bar keeps scrolling but never reaches the bottom of the page, which causes the page to grow with additional content. Lazy loading can increase the speed of your site, reduce load time and latency, and improve viewability of your video ads.

  • Use an analytics solution like App Speed reports to measure how fast app pages are loading and how long different requests take to load in your app.

  • Use Google’s AMP format to ensure your website is fast and user-first. AMP supports the long-term success of your web strategy with distribution across popular platforms and reduced operating and development costs.

  • Use Google's PageSpeed Insights to analyze the content of a web page, then generate suggestions to reduce latency and make the page load faster. When pages load faster, ads load faster and viewability rates to go up.

Minimize passbacks: Ads also tend to load more slowly when ad calls are passed from one ad server to another through a system called passbacks. The fewer passbacks that happen, the faster ads can load, which can increase viewability rates.

Lazy loading

Also known as Smart Loading, means serving ads only when it’s necessary. For example, serving an ad towards the bottom of the page only when a user scrolls down the page. Lazy loading enables pages to load faster, reducing latency and CPU consumption. Learn more about lazy loading

We recommend using this code sample as an implementation guideline for Google Publisher Tags, since other forms of implementation might trigger multiple ad requests that don’t lead to a rendered creative in the browser (which will further reduce your viewability metrics).

Lazy loading is enabled by default for publishers using the legacy Ad Exchange tag.

Lazy loading can affect your viewability.

  • If used properly, lazy loading can increase the overall viewability percentage. In cases where a user didn’t scroll down, for example, the Below-the-fold ad slots never loaded, fewer ad requests are made.
  • However, if the ad size is too large or loads too late, for example, when the user scrolls down faster than the ad loads, the user won’t be able to view the ad.

Infinite scroll: Infinite scroll, a form of lazy loading, is when the browser scroll bar keeps scrolling but never reaches the bottom of the page, which causes the page to grow with additional content.

As a user scrolls, hiding previously rendered slots or showing previously hidden slots isn't the proper implementation of lazy loading and doesn't improve viewability.

Dedicated video section

Integrating a dedicated video section into your site or app can drive traffic directly to your videos, typically resulting in viewers having a higher intent to watch the videos. And when viewers have intent to watch videos, they’re more likely to watch the ads within them. 

Responsive design

Build responsive ads so that they fit the particular browser used to view those ads. This provides a good user experience, regardless of which device (mobile, tablet, or desktop) they select to view your content and ads.

Try the following best practices:

Ad placement

There are three criteria that must be met before an ad impression is counted as viewable.

  1. A user must navigate to an area of the page where 50% of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window.
  2. The user must pause or proceed slowly enough that the ad is on screen for 1 continuous second. Scrolling past an ad too quickly does not count.
  3. The ad must be rendered when the user navigates to it.

With this in mind, we reviewed Active View data across the AdSense network and compared a broad range of site designs with high and low viewability. To help maximize the number of viewable impressions generated by your site here are some suggestions based on our research.

General ad placement
  • Content: Produce appealing content and page design that users want to consume and engage with.
  • Ad Placement: Place ads in line with the main content or in content-rich areas of the site. When choosing ad placements it’s important to consider the user experience. Avoid placing ads in areas with little or no unique content or overloading certain areas of the site with too many ads.
  • Speed: Ensure page loads are fast and reliable, including ad rendering time. Use of asynchronous ad tags is recommended, and speed optimization tools such as Google Pagespeed can be used to analyze and optimize site performance.

Before making any ad placement decisions we suggest reviewing the Google Analytics screen resolution report to understand where your site’s page fold is most often located. To access the screen resolution report in Google Analytics: visit the Audience tab, expand the Technology category, click Browser & OS and then select Screen Resolution as the primary dimension. After understanding how your site is viewed, review the suggestions below to increase the opportunity of your ads becoming viewable.

Above-the-fold (ATF) placements
  • Content: Offer engaging content on the first page and try to make as much of it viewable without scrolling (by using wider, shorter, or content-rich page design). This will ensure that users have time to read, digest, or interact with ATF content and ads.
  • Ad placement: Consider placing ads near the bottom of the screen (right above the fold). This placement has shown the highest viewability rates from our data. Ads placed just below the top navigation bar have a higher viewability rate than those placed at the very top of the page. At the same time, don’t forget about user experience. Too many ads above the fold will make your page appear cluttered and your visitors may leave the page too quickly.
  • Speed: Ensure your ads load quickly so users don’t scroll past them before they load.
Below-the-fold (BTF) placements
  • Content: Create engaging above-the-fold content that invites your visitors to scroll down the page to see what is below the fold. This will lead them down the page revealing BTF ads. Place visible headlines of the next article or story near the bottom of the top fold to encourage the user to find out what’s further down the page.
  • Ad placement: Ads placed on the left or right side have higher viewability rates than those placed in the middle. Additionally, placing ads in a separate column from the content can keep the content column clean and unobstructed, and may increase the chance that the user proceeds down the entire page.
Video ad placement

Placement is an important factor in improving the viewability of your video ads — if people can’t find your videos, they can’t watch the content. By placing videos in an optimal location, audiences will be more likely to find and watch your video content and ads.

Here are things to consider to make it as easy as possible for people to find your video content:

  • Identify where users spend time: While “top center” is typically the most viewable position on the page, take time to understand user behavior. In general, we recommend moving video players to a higher and more centrally located position on the page.

    For example, while it's true that above-the-fold videos are more likely to be seen, ad placement below the fold shouldn't be ruled out. While 73% of video ads above the fold are viewable, 45% of video ads below the fold are viewable. Consider identifying where users are spending their time on certain pages and placing video players in those locations.To test this, you can also try moving the video player higher on your website and app to understand if the viewability rate changes.

  • Dynamically play when in viewport: You should only configure a video player to autoplay if player is in viewport; otherwise, you should set it to pause.

Video ad players

More and more, users are becoming accustomed to premium video player experiences. By increasing your video player size and using best practices for click-to-play, autoplay, and sticky players, you can grow the viewability of your video ads.

  • Implement larger video player sizes: Make the video player the primary focus of the page. Large video players have significantly higher viewability than smaller video players. Typically, the larger the video player size, the more viewable the inventory. For example, a 2560 x 1440 video player has a 95% viewability rate on average whereas a 854 x 480 player size has a 88% viewability rate. Publishers should evaluate their video ad size inventory and move away from smaller video ads that don’t deliver the viewability rates desired by advertisers. This is a best practice for instream video inventory which may fill an entire screen, although smaller video players may still be appropriate for in-feed or in-article formats to protect the viewer experience.
  • Implement Click-to-Play: Click-to-Play ensures higher user engagement and viewability because a person actually has to click the video to play it, showing intent to watch the video and the ad within it.
  • Use autoplay the right way: Getting autoplay right is critical to the quality of your site or app’s experience of your. While muted autoplay is allowed, be sure your implementation is in line with the Chrome autoplay policy.
  • Use sticky players the right way: Sticky players may not be ideal for all types of websites, such as gaming pages or dynamically evolving pages. You should make sure to thoroughly A/B test sticky ad unit performance before implementing the unit across a site or app. If you utilize a sticky player to improve viewability, the player must first start as a full size instream unit. Learn more about sticky video player policies
  • Use viewable-friendly ad formats: We recommend minimizing the use of iFrames, which is an HTML document embedded inside another HTML document primarily found on sites. Ad tags within some iFrames, such as cross-domain iFrames, can't be measured by any viewability solution while others like friendly iFrames and SafeFrames help better measure viewability. When fewer ads run within cross-domain iFrames, viewability rates increase.

Quality control

Test and iterate as part of the redesign process. Each site is different as viewability depends on the content, vertical, and users’ behavior on the site.

To optimize your viewability, here are some ideas to keep in mind:

  • Position on the page matters. The most viewable position for an ad is right above the fold, not at the top of the page.
  • The most viewable ad sizes are the vertical sizes units, for example, 160x600.
  • Above-the-fold is not always viewable, while many below-the-fold impressions are viewable.
  • Content that holds a user’s attention has the highest viewability.
     

Get more tips from Think with Google:

In recent studies, mobile sites that loaded within 5 seconds, versus 19 seconds, were observed to have 25% higher viewability. Learn how to improve your mobile content with the Google Ad Manager Mobile Web Speed Toolkit.

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