In its early days, ad refreshing was misused. Greedy publishers saw it as a “get-rich-quick” strategy, and it fell into a “graveyard” of disreputable practices.
All of that is changing now. Given newer technology and especially improved measurement of views, the industry is on the move again with a fresh face and great opportunities for both publishers and brands.
What’s more, in this era of ad blocking, third-party cookie blocking, and ever-increasing privacy regulations, advertisers cannot simply and easily intrude on the digital wanderings of a consumer.
All of these things create a great environment for ad refreshing if it is done right.
The question becomes this: Is ad refreshing important and beneficial to you as a publisher?
Let’s unpack the key points of this strategy, so you may decide for yourself.
What is Ad Refresh?
If you are a publisher with an ad inventory, then you understand the basics. You are selling ad space to brands and tracking the clicks they receive so that you then receive payment. It’s a simple strategy, really.
What ad refresh adds to this is the ability of the publisher to switch out sets of ads based upon certain triggers – user behavior (e.g., clicking, scrolling, or searching) or on a set time frame (so many seconds, usually 30, 60, or 90 between refreshes).
But again, it must be done right, so that it benefits the publisher (with greater revenue), the brand (with enough viewability and click-throughs), and the user (with value-added offerings).
Simple But Not Quite That Simple
There’s a bit more than just getting that ad inventory and then using the triggers to change out those ads.
- First, the user must stay on the web page long enough to be shown a variety of ads. And in order to get a user to stay, the website must be engaging, relevant, and pleasing from a design standpoint, and offer an array of content that users will find of interest and value. This is a tall order for a publisher, but it must be met. If not, users won’t come, and advertisers won’t stay.
- Second, refreshing ads must adhere to guidelines and standards that are in conformance with Google Ads Policies – violating them will ultimately mean deletion of the ads.
- Third, while the publisher has the potential to increase his revenue, the CPM will fall off with refreshing. This should not be of great concern, so long as revenue increases.
- Fourth, advertisers must be given a full explanation about your refreshing strategy and how it can benefit them long-term. Full transparency prevents misunderstandings and advertiser concerns over viewability. They may lower their bids as a result, but this should be more than offset by increased numbers of ads presented to users during their visit to your site and their subsequent click-throughs.
- Fifth, for sets of ads to be effective, they must be in the range of viewer visibility. Many re-fresh vendors are not careful enough about this, so it will be important for a publisher to ensure that refreshes are not “blind.”
- Sixth, and this is true whether a publisher decides to use refreshing or not, the content of any advertising must be checked for plagiarism. A free plagiarism checker can be utilized for this purpose. Plagiarized ad content can land not just the creator but also the publisher in legal hot water.
- Seventh, the trigger rate for ad refresh must be determined and then tested. Publishers have to find the balance between refreshing as often as possible (to expose viewers to as many ads as possible) and giving the viewer enough time to absorb the content and respond to calls-to-action. 30 seconds is probably too short; 120 seconds perhaps a bit long.
Publishers should consider using another metric for looking at the growth of revenue, such as the earnings per thousand visitors, rather than clicks per thousand.
Because each publishing site is different, and because the average time spent on a page may differ, the only method for finding the ideal time trigger is to test regularly and often.
Audiences change. And if you have multiple websites, ideal trigger rates will differ.
The bottom line is: test, test, and re-test
Is All of This Worth It?
The answer is yes, provided you have two things in place:
- Your website(s) attracts viewers who stay long enough to be exposed to the refreshes triggered by their behaviors and the time frame you have set.
- You have a great partner in an ad-tech vendor. There are plenty of refresh solution vendors. Choose one that can take care of those “to-dos” mentioned above, without compromising viewability and provide accuracy in the consistent reporting to you.
Ad refresh can be an easy and effective revenue growth strategy if it keeps both your advertisers and viewers happy and coming back for more.
That will happen so long as you have stunning websites and the right partner to handle all of the details.
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Erica Sunarjo for her contribution to this blog post.