Ad Refresh Myths: “Ad Refresh is easy to implement”

Posted by Oscar Bole on

To the eyes of many, ad refresh may look like an easy technique that helps publishers make more revenue. It is true that the concept of ad refresh is relatively simple in comparison to the complexity usually seen in ad tech. However, the concept being simple does not mean that its implementation will be easy. Many publishers underestimate the challenge it represents to add ad refresh to their stack. And because of that, it is not uncommon for them to be under the impression that they will be able to implement them on their own without running into any issues. The reality is that ad refresh isn’t simply about setting up a timer on your ads. Publishers who have limited the scope of the challenge to setting up timers on their ads have often had bad experiences with this technique. There are several reasons for this.


Refresh your ads the right way

It is tempting for publishers to make as many refreshes as possible. It can indeed be a very profitable technique. But if your ad slots are constantly being refreshed while not even being viewed, the viewability of your placement will plummet. If this happens your inventory will lose a lot of its value and bidders will stop buying your inventory. In this scenario, ad refresh can be harmful to both your inventory and your revenue in the long run. Make sure you are only refreshing in-view ads to avoid this problem. The uplift in terms of revenue will be smaller, but it is mandatory to keep your inventory in good health.


Consider the UX of your site

Ad Refresh when done the wrong way can be annoying for the user visiting the page. First of all, they might find themselves reading an article when an ad refresh occurs. The refresh itself is not a problem for the user, but it can have some consequences on the UX. For instance, when a new ad loads, it is possible that the dimensions won’t be exactly the same as the previous ad. This means that your page will be subject to layout shifts and your user might see the layout shift completely while consuming the content, he might even lose track of it. There are ways to limit the impact of layout shifts, but they need to be considered before the implementation of ad refresh.

Furthermore, you should find the right balance between the aggressivity of the timer and the user experience. The more frequent the refreshes will be, the more revenue you will generate. However, setting a refresh timer too aggressively can hijack the user’s attention from the content, thus harming his UX.


Monitoring the right metrics

Ad refresh divides your inventory throughout the time period where a user is on your page. This means that a bidder who was previously buying your inventory for the whole time period will now only have access to it for a portion of the initial time. Publishers need to be sure that their bidders will not stop buying their inventory in the long run if they run ad refresh on their sites. They should be able to monitor closely their bidders’ behaviors. That way they will be able to spot any change in their bidders’ patterns right away and can react accordingly.


Full Control over the refresh rules

Having full control over your ad refresh rules is a must-have. Publishers will need to constantly optimize them to prevent any revenue loss and to optimize their CPMs. For example, some sites should not all be refreshed the same way. For some, a 40-seconds timer may be required whereas others can work completely fine on a 20-seconds timer. Same thing at the bidder’s level. Ad Refresh can be a sensitive matter for them, and if publishers are able to adjust the rules depending on the bidders, it is highly unlikely that they will run into any issues with their partners.


Ad Refresh may seem at first like a very simple hack for publishers. But in reality, they have to consider the entire complexity of the technique. Otherwise, they can find themselves in a position where their inventory and revenue are negatively impacted. It is also possible to damage their relationships with their partners without the appropriate tools to manage the ad refresh. Publishers who make sure that all of these requirements are filled when implementing their solution can enjoy the massive revenue uplifts coming from ad refresh, without being worried about damaging their ad stack.


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