Part 2: Strategies for Improving Viewability with Ad Unit Placement


Lesson Overview + Resources:

Now that we’ve defined a “viewable” ad and discussed how to measure viewability (in the previous lesson), let’s discuss how to improve your ad viewability. 

In this video, we’ll break down one of two unique ways of improving ad viewability. The first is the placement of ad units on a page. Improvements based on ad placement include:

  • Moving ads that are too high on the page
  • Finding the right balance between content and ads
  • Using sticky or adhesive ad units

Here are additional resources pertaining to the lesson above:

Read the Transcript:

How do you improve viewability?

We’ll go through two primary ways you can improve your viewability: through the placement of ads on the page and the settings you choose for those ad units.

The first group of optimizations you can make to improve viewability are in how your units are laid out on the page. You can, and should, follow all of the best practices we outlined in the previous lesson to help as many of them will help improve viewability. But there are three changes that stand out in just how much they can affect viewability.

This group of changes are by far the easiest approach for publishers to take on their own in improving viewability.



This is a common issue many websites suffer from. In many cases, you are looking to place ads above the fold in an effort to make sure they are seen immediately on page load.

This is a good thing, however the issue comes when you put the ad unit too high up on the page. If you place an ad directly under the navigation and above the main content of the page (a surprisingly popular ad placement), users are conditioned to *immediately* scroll past the ad to start reading the content.

This means that the ad may potentially be in view for less than a second before the user scrolls the page to the point where it is no longer visible. Because the definition of an ad being “viewable” hinges on that one second dwell time, this can often significantly hurt an ad unit’s viewability rating.

The key is placing ads above the fold but not so high on the page that the user immediately scrolls it out of view.


Next, make sure you have the right BALANCE BETWEEN CONTENT AND ADS.

For similar reasons, you want to be careful about the balance of page content to ads that are on the page at any one time. Anytime the balance leans too heavily toward ads, like having too many ads on the screen at a given time and very little page content, users will scroll more quickly to move down toward more of the primary page content.

This means that your ads may be scrolled past so quickly that they don’t stay on the screen for the full second it takes to be registered as viewable. Following these best practices for avoiding ad clutter will help ensure that this doesn’t happen.

On desktop, maintaining this particular balance is why medium rectangle units in the sidebar area of the page are so popular. They stay in active view while the user reads the main content to the left side of the ad unit.

On mobile devices in particular, the sweet spot is ensuring that ads take up no more than 30% of the viewport at a given time.


And lastly, make USE of ADHESIVE OR STICKY ADS.

Simply incorporating more adhesive or sticky ad units will help improve your overall viewability ratings. As mentioned in the previous lesson, these units stay sticky to the side, top or bottom of the users’ screen as they scroll through the content, ensuring the ad remains in view for the entirety of the time the user is viewing the page.

We already covered ad units in depth in previous lesson but, as a reminder, some of the best performers are:

Bottom rail (and, if you currently have a leaderboard that is breaking the “too high on the page” rule above, swapping out for a sticky bottom rail will provide a huge improvement in viewability)

  • Flex leaderboard
  • Left or right rail
  • Sticky medium rectangles in the sidebar
  • And corner docked video