WHAT IS AUTO-REFRESH?
Ad Refreshing or Auto-Refresh is a technique to increase the ad monetization of existing page impressions. Usually, as a user visits a website, advertisements load alongside content, giving the publisher one opportunity to monetize the page. With ad refreshing, the ads reload without the full page and content reloading.
Auto-refresh occurs based on either user initiation (such as clicking on reading more, scrolling content on the page or clicking through a gallery) or site initiation (such as a set time period of 30 seconds or more).
This type of advertising is particularly useful for those publishers with engaging content with users that spend more time on the page, as well as those publishers who display higher viewability figures and/or lower bounce rates.
WHAT ARE THE IAB GUIDELINES?
The IAB is very clear on auto-refresh in that they consider the user-initiated version as a normal ad impression. Their attention is focused on the site initiated ad refreshing.
The guidelines state that site initiated ad refreshing is generally controlled by publishers and ad traffickers. As such, the publisher is encouraged to disclose the use of site initiated ad refreshing to third parties who record ad impressions. Or, at least make the information available for use by the relevant measurement companies. In turn measurement organizations are required to disclose the use of site initiated ad auto-refresh to those that use their measurement data.
Full details can be found here, in section 2, point 2.1:
WHAT ARE GOOGLE’S POLICIES?
Google Policy sees AdSense and AdX sitting on opposite sides of the table when it comes to auto-refresh.
AdSense takes a harsh view of IAB guidelines in that site initiated ad refreshing is strictly not permitted, whereas user-initiated ad refresh is treated as a normal ad impression.
AdX on the other hand, states that all auto-refreshing inventory must be declared. AdX states 3 types of refresh that can be used with a minimum 30 seconds refresh interval stated within the publisher declaration for types 2 and 3:
- User action refreshes – based on user-guided navigation, e.g. Clicking to reveal previously hidden content.
- Event-driven content changes – when page content and ads refresh based on publisher-initiated events, e.g. Page refresh due to new content or updated content.
- Time interval refreshes – occur at predetermined intervals of time, e.g. Page refresh after a certain length of time, such as 90 seconds.
- As long as you declare the type of ad refresh being used, you can automatically refresh your ad units. The declaration itself gives buyers the opportunity to choose whether they buy your refreshing ad inventory or not.
HOW DO YOU DECLARE THIS TYPE OF INVENTORY IN GOOGLE AD MANAGER?
Once you have logged into Google Ad Manager you need to follow these steps as stated by Google:
- Click Inventory and then Ad Exchange rules and then Publisher declarations.
- Click New [inventory type] publisher declaration.
- Enter a name for your declaration.
- Decide which inventory to include or exclude in your targeting.
- Check the boxes under “Refresh triggers” to indicate that the selected inventory refreshes.
- For each refresh trigger that you declare, specify the minimum time interval between ad refreshes.
- Click Save.
The full instructions can be found in the screenshot below and through this link:
To implement the tag specifically, you need to go into Google Publisher Tag (GPT) to dynamically reload ads without having to refresh the entire contents of your page. Full instructions can be found here: https://developers.google.com/doubleclick-gpt/samples/refresh
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF DECLARING AD REFRESHING INVENTORY?
Firstly, make sure you are taking the correct course of action which will prevent your Google account from being suspended.
When using auto-refresh, be aware that time-triggered refreshing results in more impressions than the user or event-triggered refreshing. However, you need to be sensible when it comes to deciding on refresh intervals. Although 30 seconds is the minimum for Google, it may have an adverse effect on the user experience and subsequently generated inventory value.
You must be clear on the types of content you have and which types of refresh trigger is most appropriate. If you are seeing low user engagement/time spent on a page, low page load speeds and/or a high amount of low-viewability ad units then time-triggered refreshing may not be a good idea and event-triggered refreshing may not be an option either.
Opportunities can be created through tactics such as ‘Read More…’ as a call to action, with a user-triggered refresh. If you have high engagement/time spent on a page and can isolate high viewability ad units, then ad refreshing is definitely an option.
One thing to bear in mind is the negative effect each refresh may have on the resulting CPM. Allowing for average time spent on a page to find the optimal amount of refreshing, balances out the increased revenue you may see with the average CPM value for your page. If you are employing multiple or frequent refreshes be wary of the effect that may also have on your viewability score. The lower the viewability is, the fewer bids you will be seeing and prices will most likely plummet as well.
The key will be to test different ad refresh setups. Generally, longer refresh intervals imply better user engagement and may make your inventory more desirable. The good news is that the overwhelming message is positive. Buyers are buying refreshing ad units and Google is enabling appropriately triggered creation of auto-refreshing inventory.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES TO THE STANDARD AD REFRESHING METHOD?
Outside of Google, many ad networks and header-bidding technologies offer auto-refresh capabilities.Some of these provide more control over reloading inventory, as well as utilize interaction mechanisms, to maximize page and ad performance. Our Smart React technology is one such example of the new generation of ad refreshing.
The solution uses viewability, time and event-based triggers to reload ads only when users are active and the ads are in view. The technology itself reacts to the user, by pausing the timer when the ad is out of view and only continues the count once the ad is in-view again. Ensuring the ad is only refreshed once the total viewable time has reached the refresh interval. The key benefits of this are better page performance, less diminishing returns on CPM for refreshing inventory and better user experience overall.