For some time now it was only available as a beta feature in the US, now AdSense rolled out Active Views as an integrated part of the new performance reports. Many of my clients asked for more details about Active Views and their impact, therefore, I created this overview.
What are Active Views?
Active views measure the viewability of ads on your website. There are two important factors:
- how much of the ad was visible on the screen
- how long was the ad visible
When is an ad viewable?
The definition of a “viewable” ad is actually not set by AdSense, but by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). It includes the following conditions:
- at least 50% of the ad is visible
- the ad was visible for more than 1 second
Why is Active View important?
The visibility of an impression is important for advertisers and publishers. Advertisers want to know how big the chance is to get the visitor’s attention. The higher the visibility, the more valuable is the ad impression.
For publishers, probably like you, the same can apply. Especially if you get paid for clicks, the still default method to generate income with AdSense, you want to be sure that the visitor sees the ad first.
If you generate your income with a cpm model for impressions, this value should still be of interest for you, because more and more advertisers might only target your site with cpm bids if your visibility and click rate is high enough.
Why the sudden change?
Active Views are nothing new in the world of display ads. Many ad servers already calculate them, ad vendors use or even demand them from other ad networks and one might even say that AdSense is rather late here. Therefore, it was no surprise that AdSense started the beta last year and made it official not long ago.
I already see the impact this has on the ad buyers site, but let me come back to this in a minute.
Difference between Active Views and Impressions
In AdSense, the “Impressions” tell you how often the ad was loaded technically.
In addition to the impressions you can now also find the percentage of impressions that where visible in terms of Active Views.
So, every Active View is an impression, but not every impression is an active view.
Active View CPM
Active Views are not just a metric you as a publisher and AdSense user can play around with. It also serves as an option to actually sell ads on your site. It enables Advertisers to directly purchase ad space based on Active View CPM, which means they only pay for viewable impressions.
Until now you probably only saw CPM, CPC and CPE as bid types in your AdSense performance reports with CPC still generating most of the performance. With the whole restructuring you now have the “Active View CPM” bid type report available as well.
If you click on the “Active Views” report tab, the Active View CPM bid type will automatically be selected as a filter.
New values in your reports
When you browse through your performance reports in AdSense you’ll not only notice the new “Active Views” report tab, but also some metrics related to Active Views. Here is what they mean.
Active View Measurable
This metric determines how many impressions could be analyzed for their Active View value. This should be 100% or very close to it. Else, you might have a problem delivering ads, e.g. because you are using ads within iframes.
Active View Viewable
This is the percentage of impressions that is viewable. Or to use the definition of viewable ads: the percentage of impressions where 50% of the ad area was visible for at least 1 second.
Keep in mind that only AdSense for content, AdSense for video and AdSense for games ad units are taken into account here. Data from link units or dynamic allocation in DFP Small Business is not included.
I read somewhere that the Active View metrics are based on sample data and might only be available in AdSense accounts with a significant amount of traffic. However, I am not able to confirms this. Even rather small sites that I run and consult have Active Views metrics available.
Active Views and your AdSense Account
With all the above in mind and a whole lot more to do in my AdSense Reviews, here are some takeaways.
Where to place ads
The rule of thumb now is to place ads where users are staying. This was already valid before, but with advertisers directly purchasing only impressions with Active Views, the impact of the placement will increase. Ads in the header will lose performance. On non-mobile sites the ads that are placed on a right sidebar will lose as well.
You probably already heared that ads above the fold are important. This is less true now, since the header ad will get scrolled away and therefore not have much impact on your Active View impressions. Also with responsive layouts and very different screen sizes the fold is no longer easy to determine.
Still, check out the most used screen sizes of your visitors in Analytics to get an impression of where “their fold” is and think about if you can place ads close to that point. Short above the fold is not only visible right away, but also get scrolled away much later than ads in the header.
Another tip that might not be applicable for many sites is to make shorter pages with engaging content. The shorter the page is, the less the user scrolles and the longer the ads will be visible.
Which ad sizes to use?
Ad sizes can have a small impact as well. I probably don’t have to go into more details about this, but the higher an ad is, the longer it takes to be scrolled away. Still, I wouldn’t sacrifice a good and balanced site layout for this since the difference can be rather low.
Active Views are your chance
One might think about Active Views to just make the AdSense game more complicated. I believe the opposite. A viewable ad position was important before already, but you had to guess if you made everything correct with only the click rates at hand.
The Active View metrics are now just making clear what was important before already. Some time that went into testing of good ad positions can now be saved by just looking and interpreting the numbers correctly.
Almost exactly two years ago I wrote an article about optimizing ad sizes and positions and you can find everything I just said confirmed there already in the first point about good ad positions.
Active Views are your chance to identify weak spots in your AdSense setup and optimize them. More information and help comes along in my AdSense Reviews.