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Sticky Ads – What Is It and How To Get Started?

Sticky Ads
New to sticky ads? Then, you're in the right place. Here's a detailed guide to help you get started.

Thanks to the exponential growth of digital advertising, publishers have more options than ever when it comes to choosing the best ad formats today. The duopoly’s competition also played a part in the evolution of the open web. As the ad dollars started moving into the walled gardens like Facebook, publishers realized that they need to offer higher quality impressions, not just banner spaces. So, how did we end up on sticky ads? 

Banner blindness or ad viewability was/is still one of the major concerns for publishers and advertisers. Ads aren’t viewable for numerous reasons such as slow ad load time, ad appearing outside the viewable browser window, or some times readers scroll down quickly without viewing the ad.

Sticky ads were introduced to increase ad viewability and now almost all the premium and mid-market publishers are offering these ads via all the programmatic channels. From open auctions to PMPs, they are traded everywhere.  

Sticky ads

Sticky ads are the ads that stay afloat when a user is viewing the content on a webpage. As the name implies, it sticks to the viewport throughout the user session on the page. In other words, sticky ads are always visible to the user, regardless of the scroll depth.

Types of Sticky Ads

Generally, these ads are categorized into, 

Vertical Sticky Ads: These are portrait-sized ads that continue to exist on the sides of a webpage. These ads can be seen on the right side or left side of a page.

Vertical Sticky Ad   

Horizontal Sticky Ads: These are landscape-sized ads that continue to stay at the top of a webpage.

Bottom Horizontal Sticky Ads: These ads are similar to that of horizontal ads. The only difference is ad placement. As the name implies, bottom horizontal sticky ads are placed at the bottom of a webpage, unlike horizontal ads which are placed at the top. 

Bottom Horizontal Sticky Ad

Sidebar Sticky Ads: In addition to the aforementioned ads, some websites display sticky ads along with the sidebar content. Hence, the name sidebar sticky ads. Since sidebar content is one of the hotspots, publishers tend to run these ads accompanying organic content. 

sidebar sticky ads

Why should you use sticky ads?

A sticky ad benefits both the sell-side and the buy-side since it increases ad viewability and dwell time. Higher viewability and dwell time directly converts into better CPMs for your impressions

  • It passes the minimum IAB’s ad viewability requirement by default – 50 percent of the ad creative pixels are in-view for a second.
  • Sticky ads are non-intrusive. Compared to other formats promising higher viewability such as interstitial and pop-up ads, these ads are subtle and steer clear of the page content. 
  • They can yield higher CPM rates and improve domain’s overall viewability score. 

That being said, you need to proceed with caution. Sticky ads can lead to the lousy user experience if a webpage is clogged with the same. In fact, various ad networks and ad exchanges including Google AdX have issued guidelines to implement them. As a publisher, you must ensure that you are following the guidelines strictly. 

  • A publisher shouldn’t overload a web page with sticky ads. Since the ads are always present on the page, it is difficult for a reader to view the actual content of the website – with too many ads.
  • The ad content and ad attribution should be present all the time while a user scrolls up and down. The ads must not overlap or underlap the content available on a webpage. Also, ads shouldn’t come too close to the content or any other ads present on the page. 
  • The ads should stay in a fixed position through the website content e.g. if it is a vertical sticky ad, it should remain in the vertical axis of the page and the same condition applies to horizontal ads.
  • A sticky ad should be visible for all the time within the viewport and it must not appear or disappear at any point while scrolling.
  • There should be a single sticky ad present at a time/in the viewport. Most of the ad exchanges including Google AdX don’t allow more than one vertical or horizontal sticky ad at a time in the viewport.

How to run sticky ads on your site?

Implementing these ads is quite similar to that of running other display ads. To display any of your ads as sticky ads, it is advisable to confirm with your ad network(s)/exchange(s)/SSP(s) since there are a few networks that do not allow running sticky ads along with their ads. Before implementing sticky ads, you need to declare the same on ad exchanges you work with. For instance, if you use Google Ad Exchange, you are required to confirm the existence of sticky ads. Here’s how to do it.  

  • Sign in to your Google Ad Manager Account.
  • Then, go to Inventory > Ad Exchange Rules > Publisher Declarations.
  • After that, click on the Display syndication type and then click the New Display Publisher Declaration.
  • After entering a new name for your declaration, select the inventories to include or exclude for targeting purpose.
  • Then, confirm that the selected inventory will serve as either vertical or horizontal sticky ads on the website.
  • At last, click Save.

Naturally, your next question will be what to include/exclude? To help you, we’ve listed down top performing ad sizes that are often run as sticky ads.

  • 728×90: 728×90, also called as leaderboards are proven to perform well. You can make them as horizontal sticky ads. 
  • 300×250: 300×250 or medium rectangle go well with sidebar content. Publishers, typically run them as the sidebar sticky ads. 
  • 300×600: 300×600, also known as the half-page ad is one of the impactful sizes that can be made as vertical sticky ads. 160×600 is yet another vertical sticky ad size that can get you better demand and CPMs. 

How to refresh ads?

Now the next important question. Can I refresh sticky ads? If so, how to do it right?

Well, we believe ad refreshing can help both advertisers and publishers if done right. We have a successful ad refresh product ‘Active Exposure Time‘, just to prove that ad refresh can, indeed, work exceptionally well.

So, back to the question – yes, you can refresh sticky ads. Here’s a pro tip: Instead of refreshing based on standard triggers, use an advanced trigger that relies on ad viewability, user activity, scroll movements, etc. to refresh ads. As we said before, you need to do it right. Want to learn more about triggers, check our decode series. Need help? reach out to us.

What’s Next?

The results depend upon how well ads are optimized and incorporated with your content. Undoubtedly, sticky ads offer better viewability for buyers and hence better ad revenue for publishers. But, a publisher should take a step-by-step approach before implementing the ads across the website (as regular users may not take it in a way you expect them to), and make sure that the ads don’t interrupt users while browsing. 

If the point of implementing sticky ads is to get better CPMs, then it is essential to ensure consistent demand availability and better time-on-site as well.

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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