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Dos And Don’ts of Ad Refresh

Do’s and Don’ts of Ad Refresh
Looking to generate more ad revenue from the existing ad inventories with ad refresh? Then, let us help you do it the right way.

What’s the goal of the ad refresh? More impressions, eCPMs, and ad revenue. In short, maximize revenue per user session. While ad refresh is a pretty good idea to generate more ad revenue with the existing ad inventories, a publisher has to make sure that the implementation of the technique is done in the right way.

“With new compliance requirements and the eventual deprecation of cookies, there is increasing pressure on publishers to find alternative ways to maximize revenue and manage the user experience. May be why we’re seeing new auto-refresh strategies resurface.”

–  Maggie Mesa, VP of Publisher Partnership, OpenX

Because a bad refresh not only hampers user experience on the website, but it can also get you banned from Google and other demand partners. So, how do you determine whether you will be able to reap the benefits of ad refresh without getting into trouble?

Don’t know? We have got your back. In this guide, we have put together a list of the important dos and don’ts of ad refresh for publishers. With these rules in your mind, you can refresh your ad inventories with confidence knowing that you’re going on the right track. So, shall we start?

Table of contents:

Dos of Ad Refresh

Measure the Engagement Rate and Fill Rate before Refreshing the Inventory

Finding the high-performing ad inventories is perhaps one of the most important factors that should be taken into account. Rather than simply implementing ad refresh on every ad inventory, measure the effectiveness and engagement rate of them, and then refresh the ad inventories based on the results. Because refreshing the low-performing inventories isn’t worthwhile.

How can you check the low-performing ad inventories? It’s quite easy. Go to Google Ad Manager and create a report. Add the metrics Total clicks and Total impressions with the dimension Inventory and Ad unit (all levels). In addition to that, check the fill rate of the ad inventories. If an inventory isn’t even getting filled, there is no use of spending time on it and enabling the ad refresh.

Pro Tip: Sticky ads usually have a better engagement rate because they are always visible to a user or for a certain time period. So, it is recommended to leverage ad refresh for such ad units.

Use Revenue Per Session (RPS) as a Success Metric

Are we suggesting to ignore CPM as a success metric? Not at all. It will be the most important metric to measure the success of monetization. However, when you implement an ad refresh on your inventories, then CPM might not be the right metric. Instead of CPM, RPS i.e. Revenue Per Session should be checked.

Why is Revenue Per Session important? Because it is the Session that accounts for multiple ad impressions and multiple pageviews across the website. And the purpose of the ad refresh is to multiply the ad impressions without adding multiple (new) ad units on the pages.

So, the next question is how can you measure the RPS? Below is the formula to calculate the metric:

Revenue Per Session = Total Number of Ad Impressions x Bid Value / Total Number of Sessions

Implement Ad Refresh on Pages with Engaging Content

Let’s assume you’re using a Time-based trigger. As the time-based ad refresh generates successive impressions based on a certain time interval, it is recommended to implement ad refresh on pages where you publish highly-engaged content. Because the longer you can hold the visitors to the page, the more ad impressions you can generate.

“Selling time-on-page was a key benefit on the site; that’s what you were buying into. Why would [advertisers] buy an audience that doesn’t spend much time on the page?”

– Nick King, Founder, Canton Marketing Solutions (Src

So, go to your Google Analytics dashboard, filter out the pages with higher avg. time on page and implement the Time-based ad refresh on such pages. However, it is not advisable for publishers to refresh the ads prior to 30 seconds because advertisers do not prefer the inventories that get refreshed in smaller time intervals.

Pro Tip: If the avg. time on page is not great, we would suggest you create long-form content as users spend more time with long-form content.

Consider Ad Viewability while you Refresh Inventories

Many advertisers don’t like ad refresh because they believe that it reduces the visibility of successive ads on the inventory. For this reason, do measure the impact of ad refresh on ad viewability before refreshing the inventories.

And do not implement the ad refresh triggers on the ad inventories that aren’t fulfilling the viewability criteria. Refreshing low-viewable ad inventories are no good for both sellers and buyers. Not only that hurts advertisers’ ROI, but it also hurts publishers because of poor viewability scores.

Do A/B Testing with Different Types of Ad Refresh Triggers

The ad refresh works on three different types of triggers i.e. user-action based, event-based, and time-based. To get the most out of ad refresh, use the triggers based on the functioning of web pages. For example, on the pages where users may need to click on the web elements (such as CTA buttons, filter buttons, etc.), implement user-based ad refresh.

Similarly, it is recommended to try event-based ad refresh for pages where the content changes. For example, ESPN has a page with scores that automatically get updated, some publishers have pages that display the latest comments of the users. So, leverage the user-based ad refresh on such pages.

Don’ts of Ad Refresh

Do Not Refresh AdSense Inventories

It should be noted that not all ad networks or demand partners allow refreshing the ad inventories. One of the popular networks is Google AdSense. As the network doesn’t allow you to implement ad refresh on the inventories, make sure that you’re not doing this.

Besides, different partners have their own rules and policies for the ad refresh. For instance, if you’re bringing demand via Google’s Ad Exchange, then do not forget to declare the portion of ad refresh inventories in the Ad Manager’s user interface. 

Do Not Refresh If the User isn’t Active

Ad refresh makes more sense and generates better results when the user is active. If the user isn’t active on the page and you’re still refreshing the ads, the advertisers may know and think that the viewability would be reduced further. After a point of time, they may start bidding less and consequently, lower CPMs for you.

Do Not Refresh Ad Inventories Sold via Direct Campaigns

It is important to note that advertisers often know when a publisher is using the ad-refreshing technologies and they don’t allow it. If they end up paying for ad inventories that are refreshed, not only will they stop buying but they will also discontinue any direct deal with you in the future. So, refreshing the ads for your direct campaigns is never recommended.

If you’re clear-headed about the dos and don’ts of ad refresh, you can access the huge benefits of the technology. That brings up an important question: Is there any ad refresh technology that can implement the “dos” by itself? Or do you have to take care of recommendations by yourself?

We say no. A smart ad refresh technology has the capability to implement all the “dos” and ignore the “don’ts”. Let’s take an example of Active Exposure Time (AXT), an advanced ad refresh technology provided by Automatad.

Meet, Active Exposure Time (AXT)

AXT is an advanced ad refresh product that helps you trade attention. How, it:

  • Refreshes the ads only when it meets the MRC-viewability criteria. That implies, AXT does refresh the inventories if 51% of the display ad is visible and viewed by the user for at least 25 seconds.
  • Doesn’t refresh the ads when the user isn’t active on the page even if the ads are in-view. 
  • Doesn’t refresh the ad inventories running direct campaigns. 

Curious to know how AXT does all of these? Here’s an article that will help you understand the working of AXT and how it makes sure that publishers are adhering to the ad refreshing guidelines while maximizing the ad revenue.

What’s Next?

Ad refresh has been around for years. But it started gaining momentum in the last few years due to the fact that almost all the exchanges now accept refreshing inventories and that includes Google Ad Exchange. So, you can implement ad refresh but make sure you have taken into account the guidelines discussed in this article. Have any other questions on the ad refresh? We’re just a click away.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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