6 Factors to Consider When Placing Ads on Your Website

6 Factors to Consider When Placing Ads on Your Website


In our experience building ad monetization strategies for publishers over the last decade, we found that there isn’t a single ad placement strategy that works best for all websites. Depending on your website’s backend infrastructure, target reader, overall goals, and more, you need to use different ad layouts and ad types in each placement.

That said, we believe there are a few key factors you should keep in mind when placing ads on your website:

  1. Keep your ad viewability above 60% (the higher the better)
  2. Balance time-in-view with ad refresh
  3. Keep your ad density below 30%
  4. Consider how important user experience is to you
  5. Take the type of content you create into consideration
  6. Consider how much ad tech your website’s backend can handle

In this guide, we cover the most common ad placements and how you can use them to maximize revenue while keeping the above considerations in mind. We then show you how our header bidding platform, Snigel, can help you get more revenue out of each ad placement.

Note: It’s impossible to cover everything you need to know about ad placement in a single article. It takes ad ops experts months of A/B testing various ad types and placements to know the best ad strategy for a particular website. So, if you don’t feel like A/B testing ad placements yourself, you can book a call with our ad ops experts, and we’ll do the hard work for you.

An Overview of the Most Common Ad Placements

The main types of ad placements are:

1. Sidebar ads are usually placed in the right-hand sidebar of a reader’s screen (although they can also be placed on the left-hand side or in one of the columns of multi-column content).

Sidebar Ads example

 

2. Leaderboard ads are typically placed at the top of a reader’s screen. This increases ad viewability because readers can immediately view an ad when they first land on your webpage.

Leaderboard Ads example

 

3. In-content ads are ads that you place inside the content of your website (basically, anything that’s not the sidebar or banner). You can place various types of ads here, including display ads, super adhesive ads, and adaptive ads (more on this ad tech later).

In-Content Ads example

 

You can further divide these ad placements into above the fold and below the fold.

  • Above-the-fold (ATF) ads refer to any ad unit that readers can view without having to scroll.
  • Below-the-fold (BTF) ads refer to any ad unit that requires the reader to scroll in order to view it.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Where to Place Ads on Your Website

These are the considerations we keep in mind when placing ads on our clients’ websites.

1. Keep Your Ad Viewability Above 60%

Ad viewability refers to how much of the ad is visible to the reader and for how long. The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and MRC (Media Rating Council) ad viewability guidelines say that 50% of your banner ad (i.e., static ads) needs to be visible to a reader for at least one second (two seconds for video ads) for it to count as a view.

Ad viewability plays an important role in determining how much money advertisers are willing to bid for your ad inventory. Advertisers want to have their ad campaigns seen by readers, so the higher your ad viewability, the more money advertisers typically pay.

We recommend employing an ad placement strategy that maintains an overall ad viewability of 60% or more.

Below, we cover the ad technology that Snigel offers to help you maintain a high viewability rate — including sticky ads, lazy loading, and more.

Note: Investing in a heatmap solution can be a great way to learn where your most viewable (and therefore most profitable) ad spots are.

2. Balance Time-in-View with Ad Refresh

Time-in-view is a metric that shows advertisers the average time readers spend viewing your ad inventory. The longer readers view your ad inventory, the more money advertisers are willing to bid.

You can increase time-in-view by using a minimally intrusive setup where readers can scroll through your content while viewing ads in the sidebar or header.

However, there is a point of diminishing return. Once an ad has been in view for a certain amount of time (this depends on your users, the ad type, etc.), you will be able to earn more revenue by refreshing the ad space with a new ad (more on this later).

3. Keep Your Ad Density Below 30%

Ad density refers to the amount of ad space on a website relative to the overall content. This takes into consideration both the number of ads and the size of those ads.

For example, you could have two 120x600 sidebar ads (one on either side) or one 240x 600 sidebar ad on just one side — both setups would have the same ad density.

High ad density means that there’s a high ratio of ad space to content space (and vice versa for low ad density), which can lead to a more cluttered user experience.

We suggest keeping your ad density below 30%. This protects the user experience and ensures you aren’t overwhelming them with ads.

4. Consider How Important User Experience Is to You

In order to balance user experience and ad revenue, we recommend determining how important the user experience is to you and then developing your ad placement strategy around that.

For example, if you prioritize long-term traffic growth over short-term revenue, you may want to employ a more conservative ad strategy. A way to do this is to stick with static ads as they load relatively quickly. You could also avoid video and popup ads altogether because readers can potentially find them intrusive.

On the other hand, we’ve had clients approach us saying that their niche won’t be relevant in six to 12 months. In that case, they wanted to run as many ads as possible because their website wouldn’t be generating long-term traffic.

5. Take the Type of Content You Create Into Consideration

Whether it’s long-form, short-form, or multimedia content, different ad placements and ad tech work better with different types of content.

For example, if you’re publishing short-form webpages, you’ll need to maximize above-the-fold ads because there isn’t much space to place ads below the fold.

On the other hand, if you’re publishing long-form content, it could be a good idea to leave ATF space uncluttered and instead prioritize BTF ads because there’s more ad space to work with.

Although it’s not directly related to ad placement, it’s worth noting that your type of content will also impact the types of ads you run. For example, if you have a gaming website, your users may be more tolerant of video ads where you reward them for watching with in-game tokens.

Below, we give examples of how Snigel’s ad specialists can help you create a fully customized ad strategy for your specific content and users.

6. Consider How Much Ad Tech Your Website’s Backend Can Handle

Even if you’re using a lightweight ad stack like Snigel, certain types of ad tech may not be a good choice if the backend of your website isn’t optimized for performance.

For example, if your website uses bloated or redundant code, you won’t be able to run heavier ad types without significantly increasing load times. In this scenario, you should optimize these technical aspects before running heavier ad tech.

How Snigel Can Help You Earn More From Your Ad Placements

Snigel’s Sticky Ad Tech Increases Your Ad Inventory’s Time-in-View

As the name suggests, sticky ads stick in a fixed position on the reader’s screen.

Sticky Ads example

 

This increases your ad inventory’s time-in-view because readers view your sticky ad regardless of how much they scroll. If they stay on your page for one minute, you can have them view your sticky ad for the entire minute, or better yet, use Snigel’s Smart Ad Refresh (next up) to get multiple ad impressions out of one ad space.

Snigel’s Smart Refresh Increases Ad Viewability

Standard ad refresh works by using time triggers to refresh ads on your website every 30, 60, or 90 seconds. This increases the number of ads you can show readers, thus boosting ad revenue.

Smart Refresh Ads example [GIF]

However, the problem with time-based triggers is that it refreshes ads even if the reader isn’t scrolling through your website. This hurts the viewability of your ads because readers could be checking their email in another tab, and standard ad refresh will continue refreshing ads.

This is why Snigel utilizes Smart Refresh instead. Smart Refresh uses different triggers, such as scroll, click, and screen position change, to understand if the user is actually engaging with your website. It then only refreshes ads if the user is scrolling through your website.

This helps you earn more revenue by showing more ads to users without hurting your ad inventory’s viewability.

Snigel’s Lazy Loading Feature Speeds Up Page Load Times

Lazy Loading feature example

Usually, when a reader visits your website, the entire page, including all ads, is loaded at once. This can increase page load times and harm overall ad performance because the reader has to wait for every single ad to load.

Snigel’s lazy loading feature fixes this by only loading ads as readers scroll through your webpage. For example, when a reader lands on your webpage, lazy loading may only load above-the-fold ads. Then, below-the-fold ads are only loaded when the reader scrolls down.

This can also increase ad viewability because you aren’t loading ads at the bottom of your webpage that many readers are unlikely to see.

Snigel’s Video Ads Increase Ad Revenue by 20%+

Screenshot of browser window with native video integration

 

We found that placing video ads on your website can boost revenue by 20% or more, so they can be a great way to increase ad revenue without adding more ad spots.

For a deeper look into whether video ads are a good option for your website, read our Video Ads for Publishers article.

Snigel’s video ad tech, also known as AdStream, is both lightweight and customizable. This allows website owners to show video ads to readers without increasing page load times or first input delay. If there are readers with slow internet speeds browsing on mobile devices for example, AdStream can detect this and display static ads instead.

Snigel’s Super Adhesive Ads Allow You to Show Larger Ads in a Smaller Space

Super Adhesive Ads example

 

Super adhesive ads are larger ads that display in smaller spaces. Initially, the user can only see a portion of the ad, but as they scroll the ad will move within the ad space to display the lower portion of the ad.

Because larger ads typically generate more revenue, you can earn more without having to dedicate more space on your website to ads (i.e., without impacting ad density). Plus, due to the lightweight nature of our super adhesive ad tech, the user experience is minimally affected.

Snigel’s Rewarded Ads Offer Users Rewards When They View an Ad

Rewarded ads allow you to reward users who view a video or display ad. For mobile apps, these rewards are usually in-game tokens; however, we’ve seen websites use rewarded ads with great success by rewarding readers with quality content they would otherwise have to pay for.

Rewarded ads are designed to be minimally intrusive because readers can skip them after a couple of seconds. This way, readers can choose to view the ad and earn the reward or continue browsing your website without interruption.

However, placing rewarded ads on your website can be an intensive process. Most demand sources require you to embed HTML ad code into the backend of your site. You’ll also have to manually customize the behavior and appearance of your rewarded ad placements.

This is why we assign an ad ops expert to each of our clients. This expert first tries to understand if rewarded ads make sense for your website, and if so, sets up rewarded ads for you and continuously tests ad placements to find the most profitable ones.

Snigel’s Interactive Ads Increase Revenue by 30%+

Publishers are often limited to traditional ad formats because of the ad network or header bidding partner they work with.

While these ad types can generate good ad revenue, we found that placing interactive and adaptive ads on your website can be more profitable.

Interactive ads are ad tech that display surveys, quizzes, and fun facts. This sees a higher user engagement than traditional native ads, which is why advertisers are willing to bid around three to four times more for them.

Interactive Ads example

 

Because interactive ads are fun, readers sometimes think they are part of your website content. This allows you to maintain (or perhaps even improve) the user experience while showing more profitable ads.

Snigel’s Adaptive Ads Fill Ad Space Depending on the Most Profitable Combination of Ads

Dynamic Auction and Adaptive Ads example

 

Most publishers and ad specialists simply make an educated guess about which combination of ad sizes will generate the most ad revenue for specific ad space. Then, that ad space is always filled with that combination of ads (or just one ad, if applicable).

Snigel’s adaptive ad tech sends bid requests for multiple combinations of ad sizes each time a user lands on your page. It then chooses the highest-paying one in real-time. For instance, the adaptive ad tech might send bid requests for all three of these options:

  • Option 1: One 300x600 ad unit
  • Option 2: Two 300x300 ad units
  • Option 3: One 300x200 ad unit, and one 100x400 ad unit

Whichever option returns the highest total revenue will win the bid. This way, you maximize ad revenue while utilizing your available ad space in the most efficient manner.

Snigel Allows You to Connect with the Right SSP for Your Vertical

There are hundreds of SSPs and ad platforms that you can potentially connect your ad units to. For instance, certain SSPs specialize in:

  • Serving video ads
  • Serving ads to readers in various locations
  • Serving ads to readers in specific verticals like health, finance, and gaming
  • Serving ads to readers on mobile or desktop devices

While having multiple SSPs compete against each other can drive up CPMs, the more SSPs you connect to the longer it will take to fill the ad space.

This is why we recommend carefully analyzing what SSPs you want to connect with for each ad unit and cutting the lowest performers.

This requires you to constantly monitor the SSPs you’re connecting with, which is where Snigel’s ad ops experts can help. Instead of monitoring the performance of each SSP yourself, you can have one of our ad ops experts do it for you. They’ll monitor the performance of each SSP and match each ad unit on your website to the highest performing one. This ultimately results in high-quality ads on your website and more ad revenue.

Snigel’s Ad Ops Experts Test Different Ad Placements to Find Which Generates the Most Revenue

As we mentioned earlier, it's almost impossible to cover everything about ad placement in one article. It requires years of experience working on multiple websites to know which ads to use and where to place them to maximize ad revenue.

So, even if you implement all the ad placement tips we discussed earlier, you still need a dedicated ad ops expert to A/B test various ad placements, understand which ads are most profitable, handle your website's backend, and identify the right customizations.

In our experience, most publishers don't have the time nor the experience to continuously test ad placements and get very granular with their ad strategy.

This is why we assign an ad ops expert to each Snigel client. This expert meets with you to understand your website goals and target audience. From here, they build an ad strategy around your website needs and test various ad placements to find which ones work best.

Find the Best Ad Placements for Your Website with Snigel

The best practices we listed above will give you a good starting point to optimize your ad placement strategy.

However, if you want to squeeze every last dollar out of your ad inventory, reach out for a free assessment.

About the Author

Ira is Snigel's Head Of Marketing. She supports our team and publishers by creating awesome guides on the latest adtech trends. Ira's background is in software development, communications, and media.

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