How To Use Sticky Ads To Maximize Website Revenue

Let’s say “hello” to sticky ads—the ads that literally stick to your website. We don’t normally associate the term “sticky” with anything good. It’s usually the result of something gooey left behind by a recklessly used maple syrup bottle, right? But for website owners, “sticky” is the new and improved way to interact with your visitors. 

Because ads are (we think) the best way website publishers can monetize a site, the best thing you can do is optimize your ad space. Advertisers will pay more for ad types with higher visibility. We’ll walk you through sticky ads and discuss how you can effectively use them to maximize your website earnings.

What are Sticky Ads?

Sticky ads are a publisher’s answer to banner blindness. Banner blindness is a type of selective attention that omits banner advertisement—or other information presented in banner areas—in favor of consuming a website’s content faster. To put it simply, your audience is ignoring you, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

With sticky ads, a visitor can see the information presented in the ad no matter how far down the page they scroll. To stop seeing the ad, they would have to collapse it.

You’ve probably seen this kind of ad before while browsing the internet. It’s a highly effective form of advertising, especially if you’re encouraging guests to sign up for a newsletter, advertising a special deal on your website, or presenting some other form of call to action.

Types of Sticky Ads

Google’s AdSense recognizes two types of sticky ads: vertical and horizontal. Here’s how they define them:

  • Vertical: these ads appear on the sides of the page and are portrait-shaped.
  • Horizontal: these ads appear on the top or bottom of the page and are landscape-shaped.

However, outside of Google, you may find that the definitions vary from place to place. For the most part, you can rely on the following definitions of sticky ads.

  • Vertical: a portrait-shaped ad that appears on the right or left of a webpage.
  • Horizontal: a landscape-shaped ad that stays on the top of a webpage.
  • Bottom Horizontal: a landscape-shaped ad that stays on the bottom of a webpage.
  • Sidebar: a sticky ad that appears in conjunction with sidebar content.

Anchor Ads versus Sticky Ads

Anchor ads are a type of sticky ad that doesn’t want to admit it’s a sticky ad. Literally anchored to the top or bottom of the web page, anchor ads will stay put no matter how much you scroll through. More specifically, anchor ads are mobile sticky ads allowed by Google AdSense.

The Coalition for Better Ads rates top anchor ads the most preferred mobile ad strategy by users. It’s not hard to see why top anchor ads would perform better. A mobile screen is significantly smaller than a desktop, for one, and so there’s less space for an initial impression. A top anchor ad immediately allows for more content space.

When a visitor first lands on your web page with the top anchor ad, the ad is hidden. It only appears when the user starts scrolling. Bottom anchor ads, on the other hand, don’t have to wait to load. The ad loads as soon as it is available.

Pros of Using Sticky Ads

It’s obvious why website publishers prefer sticky ads—they increase ad viewership. Because they increase viewership, there are more opportunities to increase web page monetization. And unlike pop-up ads, sticky ads do not block content or have a direct negative impact on user experience. They are, for the most, non-intrusive, quietly sticking to the side of the page, following you as you scroll.

After optimizing their customer’s sticky ads, one company reports that they experienced a 40%-60% increase in clickthrough rates, 200% increase in viewability, and a 30%-70% increase in cost per mile. An increase in cost per mile means advertisers will pay more for your sticky ad space.

The bottom line is that any well-placed sticky ad will increase numbers in all three of these categories.

Cons of Using Sticky Ads

Most of the cons of sticky ads really originate from user error. If you overload your webpage with sticky ads, you’ll get a heavy page with slower load times. It may also result in the banner blindness you were trying to avoid in the first place.

Sticky ads can also block your website’s content. Yes, they are supposed to be non-intrusive, but if you do not pay attention to the size of the ad, you’ll be overlapping important text as if it were a pop-up ad.

Limitations of Sticky Ads

If you’re thinking that you’re going to head right over to Sticky town to turn all your ads into sticky ads after reading this article, think again. You need to analyze your webpage as a whole before you do this. Ask yourself the following series of questions.

Does AdSense Allow Sticky Ads?

If you were using AdSense for your advertisements, up until recently, you were not allowed to make your desktop sidebar ads sticky. According to AdSense, sticky ads can negatively affect user experience and result in accidental clicks. If you did decide to try it regardless of the company’s policy and the AdSense team caught you (and they would), they would have issued you a violation notice or disabled your ads.

You could technically still use sticky ads, but only on mobile devices. Sticky ads are also called anchor ads and AdSense allowed mobile anchor ads. These ads appeared at the bottom of your mobile device’s screen as long as you were on the website.  Google has very specific rules and regulations surrounding sticky ads.

  • Do not overload! The amount of sticky ads you have on your website needs to be less than the amount of visible content on your site. 
  • For horizontal ads, you need to make it apparent that the ad is an ad and different from the content on your webpage.
  • Sticky ads can’t over or underlap any content. This rule applies to mobile responsive layouts.
  • Vertical ads cannot appear or disappear out of nowhere. They must be present at the start of the viewpoint and stay on the vertical axis.
  • Horizontal ads cannot navigate away from the edges of the page.
  • Ads can’t hide any part of the hide, and they can’t be choppy.

If you meet all of these guidelines, you’re free to have fun with mobile sticky ads. If you’re not ready and you’re using AdSense, then you shouldn’t attempt it just yet.

Is My Website Heavy?

Heavy websites are filled with advertisements, photos, or other large files that slow down the webpage. As web publishers know, the longer it takes to load a webpage, the more likely a visitor will navigate away from it. In fact, the longest it should take your page to load, ideally, is no more than 5 seconds. In 2018, the benchmark page load time was 1.8 seconds. That’s pretty fast.

As addressed in the cons, we bring this up because sticky ads can make a web page heavy. So if you’re already running at your limit, you may want to invest in some speed optimization services or tools before bringing in sticky ads.

What Kind of Website Do I Run?

If you run a gaming page or a dynamically evolving webpage, you’ll find it difficult to get sticky ads to work in your favor. For instance, in the case of a dynamically evolving webpage, every time a user loads the site’s content, it changes. This process takes a lot of data exchange and power. As sticky ads themselves run on the heavy side, the inclusion of a sticky ad could significantly slow down your website.

What Should I Advertise?

You wouldn’t throw an anchor overboard when you’re already docked at a pier, so why incorporate another feature to your website when what you have works? Too much is just that: too much. Make sure whatever you want to use a sticky ad for will be worth the additional visual to your webpage.

Sticky ads are great for newsletter sign-ups, product sales, customer service help, etc.—things that are helpful to the visitor. Don’t use up sticky ad space on page-redundant content or overly flashy ad trash.

Best Practices for Sticky Ads

Google’s rules for sticky ads are partly intended for the web publisher to make the most out of their ad. They help prevent interruptions in user experience and keep you from overloading your web page with ads. But there are a few more big important tips you should keep in mind as you’re designing your sticky ads–with AdSense or not.

1. Size

There are three standard sizes for sticky ads that have historically had the most success.

  • 728×90: Also called leaderboards, these would be horizontal (top or bottom of the page) ads.
  • 300×250: Medium rectangle ads that made good sidebar sticky ads.
  • 300×600: Be careful with this half-page ad if you know that you have important content on your website’s landing page. Still, with such high visibility, this is a top-performing size.

Don’t publish sticky ads that will be so tall that they block out key elements of your webpage and remember that mobile responsive layouts will resize sticky ads to work for mobile. Don’t design these ads to be more than 100px tall.

2. Placement

According to a study by Coalition, visitors preferred the use of sticky ads, but only when placed in certain areas of the webpage. On a mobile device, users most preferred sticky ads on the top or bottom of the page. On the flip side, users least preferred large sticky ads on the bottom of the page in desktop settings.

You’ll also want to be sure a visitor won’t mistake a sticky ad for a website element—which is why it’s so important not to overlap a sticky ad on your content.

3. Consistency

Create sticky ads that blend in with the aesthetic of your webpage. This doesn’t mean your sticky ad has to be a wallflower, but if your website has a discernable theme, design your sticky ad to flow with the theme, not disrupt it. You’ll be less likely to negatively impact the visitor’s user experience this way.

Implementing Sticky Ads on Your Webpage

There are several plugins you can download and use to enable sticky ads on your webpage. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll have a particularly easy time finding a widget that works. If you’re using AdSense, you don’t have to download a plugin, but you will need to go into your settings to enable and declare sticky ads. You’ll have to copy and paste code into your webpage’s HTML.

AdX provides the following example of code you’d want to use if you’re using AdManager:


<div ID=”stickyunit”>

        /* DFP Ad Unit Code */



#stickyunit { position: fixed; }

Once you insert the code for sticky ads, you’ll need to make sure it complies with AdSense’s policies. You can always go back into the code and change any problematic specifications.

If you’d like to use one of our sticky ads (we highly recommend it), none of this coding is necessary! We take out all the fuss and our sticky units are just placed like any other unit.

To Stick or Not to Stick

If you overload your webpage with sticky ads, they’ll be just as intrusive as any other ad can get. We all know how a smidge of superglue can suddenly become a big blob—it gets everywhere, including your fingers. If you’ve ever had to wash super glue off your skin before, you know it’s annoying. And that’s exactly what happens to a webpage with too many ads. It gets annoying.

At the end of the day, sticky ads are as useful as you make them. If you use them on your website tastefully, you could end up seeing a major improvement in the money you get from advertisers and the engagement between site visitors and your content. Although AdSense has its limitations, working with another ad provider can help guarantee revenue boosts through the use of sticky ads.

Getting Started

At Newor Media, we understand how great of a revenue boost sticky ads are for publishers. If you’re looking to successfully implement these ads on mobile or desktop, we can help. We’re non-exclusive meaning you don’t have to leave your current network or AdSense. Visit us online to get started. 

Dario Osowski

Senior Account Manager, Publisher Development: Newor Media

Dario is an ad tech superhero who is innovative and has solved complex technical and business matters that have generated high revenue growth for publishers. He has a strong technical background, provides technical concierge support, is highly analytical and solution-oriented. Dario currently works at Newor Media, where he provides technical and business support and solutions to publishers to generate the best revenue growth outcome in yield optimization management in the programmatic universe.