You might jump to the conclusion that monetizing online content with ads is just about exploiting your website’s white space. Yes, ads run in available areas besides content, but making them effective takes more involvement and the very first step is to identify places that focus your users’ attention.
Ads must be seen
Thinking that just implementing ads without asking yourself questions where and why is a trap. Although those will make money, the income in such a case is rather random and in business matters nobody wants to rely on chance. That’s why, no matter the industry, there is no growth without analysis and strategy. Since as an online publisher you earn with advertisements reaching your audience, learning how and where creations do best is a must! It’s not as scary as it might seem because there is no shortage of analytic indicators that help in understanding what makes your ads work. Among metrics you follow, you should inspect those considering unit performance, such as viewability. For engagement to happen, an ad must be seen first, therefore comprehending the idea of active view and users’ journey is crucial for an efficient ad layout.
The metric to track ⎼ Active View
Let’s make something clear – an engagement doesn’t happen within an ad impression. Just because an ad is served doesn’t mean it is displayed in a visible area of the user’s screen, which is necessary for clicks or any other interaction. To state the obvious – for an advertisement to be effective it must catch the user’s attention, thus have the possibility to actually be seen. Although we’re still unable to measure the consciousness of online interaction, there is a way to inspect if your ads even had the opportunity to impact a website’s visitor. It’s possible to follow that thanks to Active View, which allows you to verify if creations were visible in a displayed part of the website for enough time. It’s commonly agreed that for a display ad to be considered “seen”, at least 50% of it must be on the device’s screen (in Active View) for a minimum 1 second, while the proportion for a video ad is 50% for 2 seconds. Tracking your ads’ viewability rate you learn to what extent they indeed reach users. And making use of that data is to recognize your website’s areas that best focus the user’s attention.
Where our eyes wander
Since we live in a digital age, you don’t have to draw a map of places with the best advertising potential on the basis of statistics. Over the years, various eye tracking studies were conducted to explore people’s behavior online. With that, many concepts emerged, revealing the most common habits in content perception. Not to dive too deep, let’s overview the universal ones:
One of the patterns extracted in Nielsen Norman Group research is the F-Shaped pattern. Users tend to read content horizontally and then move down along the left side of the page and the horizontal perception decreases creating an imaginative F. Recent eye tracking research proves the F-pattern is still valid, however it has negative effects on users and business since the great peace of content is missed.
The Layer-Cake Pattern
Another one proves what we all do – scan the websites in search for interesting chunks of content instead of reading step by step. It’s just a simple attempt to save time and still find what was looked for. Studies show that such perception provides users with pretty much the same amount of information thanks to experience gained with different websites over the years. The layer-cake scanning pattern is about focusing most attention on a website’s headings and subheadings, and areas around it, with occasional interest in the main body of the content.
Above the Fold Concept (ATF)
Although one of the oldest, it’s still a very valid idea. It’s based on a simple conception of dividing a website into parts visible on the screen and those requiring action to be seen. ATF stands for what’s displayed once the page is rendered, and of course it’s the area where every advertiser would like to be displayed.
Users are people
Sure, the described above concepts regard content consumption, but advertisements’ goal is to be seen just like any other online creations. By now, you should know that everything happening in a digital sphere is about attracting attention and engaging with users. And the success of that depends on how much you know about people visiting your website. That’s not only the matter of your targeted audience specifics, but also what characterizes web browsing in general.
Although it might seem obvious, properly exploiting these areas is not that easy. It’s not about filling them with content or ads to the maximum, but rather balancing between importance, potential, and purpose of what you publish with the space you choose to do it in. Learning how visitors consume what you deliver is another way to get to know them, so providing them with the best experience. And as you already know that’s the key to digital success 😉