A Quick Guide To Everything ‘Ad Refresh’

Thinking about implementing ad refresh? You’re not alone. 

Ad-blocking, tightening privacy regulations, and third-party cookie blocking are just a few of the newest obstacles publishers face while trying to earn with ads. So when a revenue-generating solution comes about, it’s hard not to jump in headfirst or even overdo it. 

While ad refresh is no new concept, and some publishers see a 5%-8% uplift on varying ad units, it’s not for everyone. The reality is, some can’t use it, and others don’t know how to use it properly. Rather than give up or blindly implement it, it’s best to acquaint yourself with this money-maker of a solution. Below is a quick guide to ad refresh and everything you need to know to succeed. 

What Is ‘Ad Refresh’? 

Ad refresh, or auto-refresh ads, is a technique that increases the number of impressions served per session by refreshing ads on a page for active users (yay, more earnings!). It aims to target users with above-average session times and works on predefined triggers. In theory, it will increase revenue-per-session. 

What Are The Benefits?

Undoubtedly, the biggest draw to ad refresh is an increase in revenue. It gives publishers with quality and engaging content the opportunity to capitalize on users who spend a lengthy amount of time on their site. So long as you implement it correctly, you can get a nice boost in earnings.  

By taking advantage of the traffic you already have, you get to worry less about attracting more traffic with things like SEO. However, it’s never a bad idea to put some effort into new traffic! 

It’s important to note that it’s common to see a decrease in cost per mille (CPM). Advertisers will sometimes decrease the value of impressions (bid) because they’re aware a publisher is implementing ad refresh. Though CPMs will register low, the total revenue generated may still be higher because the total number of impressions served is much greater. But generally, publishers following the policies set in place by their network should not see decreased CPM. 

Are There Any Drawbacks?

A website will suffer considerably when ad refresh is not optimized. Reloading ads can slow page speed to the point that it disrupts the user experience. Aside from losing traffic, it can also result in a high bounce-rate ( percentage of visitors who leave rather than continuing to view other pages). 

Viewability can also be negatively impacted by broad-time refreshing, ad refreshing while a user is on another tab. Broad-time loading leads to decreased viewability rates and can result in lower demand from advertisers.   

Should I Use ‘Ad Refresh’?

If you have higher-than-average session durations and on-page times, then you’re definitely a candidate. You’ll also want high-performing ad units, as this will ensure the new impression is served. Without those key factors, ad refresh will be practically useless in increasing revenue. The most crucial factor to consider is whether your networks support it. 

Is It Available On Any Network?

No, every network does not support ad refresh. Whether or not you can use it will vary depending on the network partnerships you have. Policies and practices will also differ from network to network. Publishers who break policies outlined by networks can be banned. Similarly, publishers who attempt to force it onto their site while partnered with specific networks, like Adsense, can also be banned.

For publishers interested in implementing ad refresh, working with a header bidding provider (if you’re not already) can give you access to networks that support it. 

What Are The Best Practices For ‘Ad Refresh’?

A/B testing triggers

There are three main triggers publishers can use to enable ad refresh. When applied meaningfully (and strategically), there’s a lot of success to be had. It’s essential to use a trigger based on the functioning of that webpage and user intent. Where one trigger might yield more on a page with a high amount of user-action, another might outperform on a page with high on-page time. Always implement the trigger you feel will best enhance a site page and regularly assess its performance with A/B testing. Commonly used triggers are:

  • User action trigger: Ads are refreshed based on selected user actions.
  • Event trigger: Ads are refreshed based on events defined by the publisher.
  • Time trigger: Ads are refreshed based on pre-set time intervals, such as 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds.  

Appropriate use of time-based triggers

Publishers anxious to increase impressions quickly run the risk of using time-triggers that do more harm than good. In general, a publisher should aim for at least 60 seconds on desktop and  30 seconds on mobile. Anything under these times will not give users the chance to engage with the ads, leading to (possibly) lowered impressions and decreased click-through-rates. If refresh gets set to after 240 seconds, Adwords from Google will no longer bid. 

Understand RPM & EPMV

You won’t know how the technique is doing if you don’t understand what to look for. As we previously mentioned, CPMs can decrease even though the total revenue generated is higher. For this reason, CPM should not be used to gauge the success of ad refresh accurately.  

Instead, measure metrics that directly correlate users, sessions, or page views with revenue.  This can include page revenue per thousand impressions (RPM) or earnings per thousand visitors (EPMV).

For publishers using a header bidding provider, you should have direct access to these key metrics. Some vendors will provide a dashboard to keep you up-to-date with real-time performance. 

Use a header bidding provider

So you’re a good candidate for ad refresh–great! Now all you have to do is figure out the policies in place by your partnerships, implement them, figure out what to set and where, A/B test your ad units…dizzying? A bit.

Though you may have a good idea of everything ad refresh, carrying it out may require a great deal of effort (and patience). This is why working with a header bidding provider is the best (and recommended) practice. At Newor Media, with the help of proprietary technology, we’ll successfully implement it for you!

Did you know refreshing ads from the ad server and not just refreshing a page can significantly impact performance?  We do. In fact, our team of AdOp experts knows all the best practices and tips to create high-performing and revenue-boosting ads. We can also ensure that you’re compliant with any policies a network has, so you don’t have to worry about being banned or losing money.

What’s Next? 

In general, if done correctly, ad refresh can increase ad revenue without compromising user experience. It’s important first to decide if you’re a qualifying candidate for ad refresh. Questions to ask yourself are:

  • Does my network allow it?
  • Do my website metrics indicate I’ll see an increase in revenue?

If the answers are yes, then the best way to get started is by reaching out to our team. We’ll work hard to ensure ad refresh is implemented correctly and optimized so that you’re maximizing your revenue. 

Bridget George

Senior Account Manager, Publisher Development: Newor Media

Bridget is a dynamic business development and account manager. She has been in the ad tech industry for over 7 years and is known for her ability to drive innovative solutions and foster strategic growth. Passionate about her work, she excels in managing key accounts and ensuring client satisfaction.