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What is Viewability?
An ad is categorized as viewable when over 50% of it is showing on a screen that is not scrolling and is actually seen by a human being for one second. Viewability is the measurement of this event.
Why does Viewability matter to me?
Viewability is an industry-wide development in how advertisers require accountability for their advertising dollars. From Facebook ads, to Google ads, to major companies that sponsor ad campaigns with SheKnows, advertisers are increasingly asking to buy only viewable ad impressions.
The Media Rating Council, an advertising industry association, released standards in June 2014 so all companies and publishers involved in online advertising have a common set of definitions.
Publishers with the most viewable inventory will be in the best position to earn revenue. Demonstrating success at displaying advertising to real customers will help publishers continue to attract advertising for their sites.
How is viewability measured?
The industry standard for desktop viewability requires that 50% or more of the ad must be displayed for continuous second in a browser tab that the user is viewing, while the user is not scrolling. If the ad is larger than 242,500 pixels, then only 30% of the ad needs to be in view, so extra-tall units like the 300×1050 portrait ad have some leniency.
For video units, 50% or more of the ad must be seen for 2 seconds. For mobile, publishers are encouraged to follow the desktop standards until a mobile standard is issued.
The general industry expectation is that 70% or more of ad impressions should be viewable. Some advertisers are seeking viewability much higher than the 70% minimum, up to 100%.
SheKnows works with a third-party measurement service to track the viewability performance of ads displayed by our network, and share that data with our publishers. For most sites in our network, viewability data is best analyzed month by month, rather than day by day, because viewability is best measured with a large number of ad impressions.
How can my site achieve the highest desktop viewability?
First, you need to know two things:
No site can achieve 100% viewability.
Viewability for any site will always be a combination of where ads are placed relative to content and user behavior.
Working with thousands of sites has taught us a lot about best practices and strategies that achieve higher viewability. Bloggers using WordPress are in the best position to achieve high viewability, since that platform is more customizable than limited platforms like BlogSpot, Squarespace, and Tumblr.
These simple strategies can be used on any platform to help improve viewability. No one solution works for every site, since reader behavior can vary by site, so it’s important to review your ad viewability on a regular basis.
If your posts tend to start with a large image, move your sidebar ads DOWN to start where your text starts. This is especially true for recipe and DIY posts, where users tend to admire that big beautiful photo while scrolling down past it to get to the recipe or project instructions.
Instead of placing a horizontal (728×90) ad above your site’s header, place it between the header and the content. That way, users won’t miss the ad as they’re scrolling down to get to your great content.
Use “adhesion units” which stick to the bottom of the browser window. SheKnows offers two choices of adhesion units for desktop views of your site:
The top Tune-in Bar sticks at the top of the browser window, remaining as a reader scrolls down, unless they click to close it.
The bottom Tune-in Bar sticks to the bottom of the window, with a click to close button.
These units have high viewability on almost all sites, but should not be displayed on mobile.
Consider removing lower-performing ad units. Removing these ads enhance the user experience, promotes repeat visits, speeds site loading time, and attracts higher quality advertisers who look at performance of your network as a whole. Financially, low-viewability units will become increasingly worthless as the market changes.
More Technical Fixes
These strategies will most likely require WordPress or another powerful platform.
“Pin” ads so they persist on the screen, even while the reader is scrolling. Jonathan Carter of Pixelbind has a tutorial for making a div stick when you scroll, which may be a good starting place for the tech-savvy, or if you work with a developer.
Bloggers using WordPress can try out the Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin (SheKnows Media can’t guarantee that any plugin will work with every blog.) SheKnows Media has a how-to guide for the Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin.
“Lazy Loading” ads, which means delaying loading ads that are lower on the page until they’re within the browser window. This can be discussed with a developer. If we find a plugin we’re comfortable recommending, we’ll update this FAQ.
Infinite scroll, meaning that content lower down (including ads) won’t load until a reader scrolls down to a certain point. If the user never does scroll down, ads don’t load without being viewed. This may require substantial template modification, depending on your existing template. For very long posts, another alternative is paginating them into shorter sections, so readers don’t scroll part so much content to read the complete post.
How can my site achieve the highest mobile viewability?
The worst viewability on mobile comes from mobile responsive templates that display sidebar ads after all the site’s content. With these templates, sidebar ads should be suppressed on mobile. You can follow our guide for suppressing ads in mobile for WordPress if you have this type of theme.
The best viewability on mobile comes from mobile-specific ad formats that appear at the bottom of the browser window, “native” ads that appear within main content, and 300×250 ads placed above or in content for those who have the ability to insert it. WordPress users can use a plugin like Ad Inserter to inject 300×250 or 320×50 ads directly into the content for mobile pageviews. (SheKnows Media can’t guarantee that any plugin will work with every blog.)
How can I get help improving my site’s viewability?
You can look at your site’s viewability at any time, in your online revenue report for your blog. Please look at numbers month by month, not day by day, unless our team has advised otherwise.
The SheKnows Media team is happy to look at your report with you and analyze your site’s current layout. We can access and share additional data from our viewability measurement partner to help you understand strengths and weaknesses of your current template and ad selection. We can advise on simple fixes, generate additional ad code, and suggest WordPress plugins.
For complicated template changes (such as infinite scroll), we’re happy to help discuss with your developer if they need information from us.
Please contact the Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance!