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How taming the wild-west exchange increases viewability

By Steve Adams Content Strategist January 9th, 2020

Taming the wild-west exchange can go a long way to helping the programmatic industry overcome many of the problems that have plagued the industry since its inception. Viewability is one of those problems and has a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of ad placements. 

This may come as a shock to some of you, but some publishers use one ad placement to monetize an entire site. That means there is no way to distinguish between the homepage leaderboard and the unit at the bottom of an article beneath the comment section. Every ad on the site is sold with the same information. This practice is easy, cheap, and fast for publishers getting started but the lack of granular information means worse viewability for the advertiser and it means the publisher isn’t able to leverage their valuable spots. There are numerous ways in which this lack of granular data impacts the viewability as you will see below. 

Viewability above and below the fold. Is there a difference?

Whether an ad is placed above or below the fold has a huge impact on its potential to be seen. Offering that inventory data gives advertisers the choice of whether they want to bid higher for an ad that has better viewability or lower for less. A recent study from google suggests that ads above the fold have a viewability of 73% and ads below have a viewability of 44%. That’s a big difference, especially considering that an advertiser could be bidding the same amount for ads placed above and below the fold.

An ad impression is more valuable at the top of the page and exchanges need to work with publishers to make sure ad location is properly tagged and disclosed to the advertiser. Additionally, well-done ads below the fold can be called only when in view, resulting in higher viewability. Ultimately, If the site inventory is tagged with the proper amount of detail, the viewability of a publisher’s inventory will increase and advertisers will know the level they are bidding on. 


Auto-refresh Ads: good for everyone, always?

Refreshing ads makes sense on pages where the user is staying for a long time; streaming content for example. The publisher gets more ad revenue and ad viewability remains high. On content where users spend less time on page, auto-refresh can become a dubious practice. With ads auto-refreshing too frequently, viewability is lowered and advertisers will not be keen to continue advertising on that site. The frequent refreshing of ads also adds a lot of noise to the user experience leading to more ad blocker installs in browsers. If the practice of auto-refreshing is not done appropriately, those requests should not have a home in your exchange.


Maintaining a high viewability rate is a great step in taming the wild-west exchange. Making sure publishers disclose granular data for advertisers to know where their ads are being placed as well as limiting inappropriate use of auto-refresh will go a long way to making exchanges more orderly. Granular data from publishers will also help the industry cope with big changes at our doorstep. 

 Looking for an introduction to the wild-west exchange? Click here

If you’d like to learn more about how improving exchanges helps with privacy law compliance, decreases the ‘tech tax’ and more, then read the full ebook:

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