Outstream sticky ads won't harm your UX, your Site might.

Updated: Apr 26


“AC/DC Music made me kill at 13” admitted Richard Ramirez, a confessed murderer sentenced to death 19 times in November 1989. Truth is that music doesn't just turn people into psychopaths, nevertheless AC/DC and and the entire genre carried that cross for years to come.

Fortunately for everyone, outstream sticky ads are not accountable for taking the life of any AdOps - that we know of -, however sticky ads are often times regarded as highly intrusive ad formats. As it happens, outstream sticky ads deliver crazy high viewability rates (≈100%) and thus 2x+ higher CPMs, just like AC/DC delivers amazing riffs for your ears!

But despite of their high profitability and viewability, Publishers turn a blind eye on sticky ads in preservation of UX, which we can only admire and respect, but before putting on the Superman cape to protect your users experience and turning down substantial incremental revenue, consider that your page layout, your page speed, your content and even the excess of “less intrusive” ad formats, could also be responsible for poor UX performance.

Commonly it takes a couple people complaining inside or outside your organization to cut sticky ads from your repertoire. In this post we will try to make the point that it should be your data and not the voice of a few angry users or colleagues the main driver for your decision for using or turning down sticky ads.

As usual, we will connect data points from different sources to prove the real impact of sticky ads on UX and revenue, but before getting to it, here are some basic definitions we need to know:

  • Vertical Sticky Ads: portrait-sized ads that continue to exist left or right of your site.

  • Top Horizontal Sticky ads. Landscape-sized ads that continue to stay at the top of your site.

  • Bottom Horizontal Sticky ads: Landscape-sized ads that continue to stay at the bottom of your site.

  • Outstream ads: typically referred to as Outstream Video ads, this are ads that live outside video players. This concept can also be applied to display ads that does not run on a pre-defined ad unit and can pretty much run on any location of your website.

  • Viewable ad: when at least 50% of a display ad area is visible on the screen for at least 1 second or when at least 50% of a video ad area is visible on the screen for at least 2 seconds.

  • Viewability: percentage of all your ads that qualify as viewable ads.

  • UX: Interaction and experience visitors have with your website.

  • Bounce Rate: A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.

  • Time on Page: time spent by a user on one of your pages.

  • Avg. Session Duration: total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions.

Pros of the Sticky Ads.

  • High viewability

  • Higher yield

  • Deliver incremental revenue as they run separately from the rest of your ad units.

  • Won´t compete or cannibilize other portions of your ad inventory

  • Easy setup

  • It won't increase Ad Server costs associated to delivered impressions.

Cons of the Sticky Ads.

  • Ads are always present on the page

  • If placed incorrectly could hamper reading experience or content.

Problem statement

After implementing a bottom horizontal sticky ad (aka anchor or catfish) on 20% of your site's pages, you have experienced a 15% increase in your WoW revenue while this format is producing 3X higher CPMs than any other format at a 100% viewability rate. As there is no need to run this format from your ad server, it will not compete or take any share of voice from your other programmatic line items, while implementation was smooth and fast. The cherry on top of the cake is that your selected supply partner has a 30 day payment term. Based on the results above you would like to roll out the sticky ad format on 50% of your total pages, however your colleagues responsible for UX and traffic acquisition are generating enough negative friction to elevate this decision to the CRO of your company. Their argument is a decrease on both Avg. Session duration and Bounce rate since the implementation of the Catfish.

Your challenge is to demonstrate your peers that balance between UX and higher yield can be achieved.

Solution & Methodology

Premise 1: Bounce Rate increase doesn't mean less engagement. Remember that even if a user stays 5 minutes reading a page, if they don't visit another page they will be considered as bounced.

Premise 2: Avg. Session duration decreasing doesn´t mean less engagement. Keep in mind that Google analytics can't measure the time a user spent looking at the last page of the session. So if the user spent more time on the last visited page the avg. session duration can still go down.

Premise 3: Look for increases of your Avg. Time on Page, as they might reflect better the engagement of a user in consideration of points made on Premises 1 and 2 above. Even though the formula used by google analytics to calculate the Avg. Time on Page disregards the last page in the visit, if your users are spending more time on your pages its a clear indication that they are not bothered by the catfish.

Premise 4: Advocate that the substantial increase on the Average Revenue per Page (ARPP) is the best metric to measure the Health of your business considering that the intricate nature of Sessions and Bounce Rate as engagement metrics, could be misleading. Your CRO will appreciate that making profit has a high priority level for you.

Premise 5: Generate trust for your UX and Marketing colleagues by providing them full visibility on your engagement metrics and commit to revise on timely manner such metrics to identify dangerous fluctuations of UX levels.

Process & Execution

  1. Pull 7 & 30 days reports on Bounce Rate, Avg. Session Duration and Time on Page from your Google Analytics account.

  2. Use “conditional formatting” or alike functionality to track fluctuations of Time on Page and Avg Session Duration against behaviour of your Time on Page. You could also use yieldPass´ alert system to correlate all these 3 events with their respective benchmarks to be notified when these fluctuations take place.

  3. Cross your time on Page Data with your Ad Revenue data to determine your ARPP. You can also use yieldPass´ smart Dashboards to easily track and visualize this metric in real time.

  4. Grab a beer and a AC/DC record and sit down with your Marketing colleagues to analyze the results.

Expected outcome & validation.

  • Your Avg. Time on page should show increases or very low fluctuations. This would prove the fact that users are not really bothered by the ad format.

  • Your ARPP should definitively show 10%+ increases if you want to draw the attention of your peers ;

Useful Resources.

- Use yieldPass Smart Dashboards to unify all your data sources in one place.

- Use yieldPass Surveillance Software to set customized alerts on the sets listed on the Process & Execution section above.

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