Let’s Talk About Sticky Ads

In this piece, we’ll be talking about sticky ads. A sticky ad, which you might have already guessed, is an ad that sticks to a web page. If you implement a sticky ad into your website and a user scrolls down the page, the sticky ad will remain on the users’ screen. 

Sticky Ads

How are they used?

There are different ways publishers apply sticky ads. The most common is the Sticky Footer, which most often appears as a 320×50 for mobile and 728×90 for desktop. These are ads that stick to the bottom of a webpage. Another common option is the Vertical Sticky Ad, which often appears as either 160×600 or 300×600 for desktop and is displayed on the left and right sides of a web page. 

There are other ways to apply sticky ads which I won’t include as some of these involve implementing interstitial ads that sit in the middle of a webpage. The type that forces your readers to have to close or engage to get rid of them. Other examples could take the same principle as the sticky footer but the ad would be three to four times in length. These are the type of ads that regulators like the IAB and the Coalition for Better Ads are battling against.

Pros and Cons of Sticky Ads

If you have placed ads below the fold of your webpage, then there is a chance that readers won’t see the ad as they may not even scroll down, and as you may know, ad impressions are only paid when they are viewable. 

The benefits of using a sticky ad are that the ad will always be visible. This means that every impression that is delivered through the sticky ad unit, you will get paid for them (given your ad provider is launching CPM campaigns). In addition to this, an ad that’s visible on a user’s screen for a long amount of time will increase the chances users will engage with them. Advertisers will be happy with the increased engagement and you’ll be happy with the extra revenue. By showing your ad provider that your site can produce high ad engagement, you become more valuable to them and to the advertisers they work with. 

There are of course reasons why you probably wouldn’t want to use a sticky ad. The most obvious one being, if they are too large, they may ruin your readers’ experience with your site. Having an ad in your face or restricting the view of the content you want to consume can be rather annoying. Especially if it is a Flashing Animated Ad. This kind of experience may cause your readers to resort to installing and applying an ad blocker, which not only blocks revenue from that ad unit but also from your other ad units. An even worse case would be if your ad provider is running CPC campaigns on the sticky ad. Because even if ads are displayed you don’t earn revenue unless it’s clicked on, which offers you a lot more risk than more reward.

Utilizing Sticky Ads

Two technologies that work well with sticky ads are Lazy Loading and Ad refreshing. Lazy loading is a method used to delay the display of an ad unit. One reason why publishers might want to use this is to prevent their readers from leaving. As mentioned above, sticky ads, especially if displayed largely can annoy users. By delaying the display of an ad until the reader is half-way through your article and is already hooked, will decrease the chance that they will exit. You benefit from the ad impression and reduce the risk of losing readers before they even begin to read the first line.

Ad refreshing is a method of requesting another ad through the same unit after a specified amount of time. For example, imagine only a sticky footer ad is applied to your article page. To finish this article it takes readers 5-7 minutes. In that time the user only views one ad impression. However, if you were to apply Ad refreshing, the reader would be displayed even more viewable ad impressions, thus increasing your revenue.

Whether you’re deciding to use sticky ads or not, I think it is always a good idea to test. I personally favor Vertical Sticky ads as they do not restrict the view of the feed and the content of the page and you still benefit from the viewability that sticky ads have to offer. To help choose what type of ads would work best for your site, I recommend speaking with a monetization expert, as they can help you choose the option best suited to your site’s design, tell you who are the top providers of these formats and offer valuable insight into the performance of these ads.