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.

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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.

active view bid type in adsense

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.

The Author

Comments

  1. Julian

    Hi Thomas, thank you for describing this new metric in Google Adsense. I am using AdExchange as well and after running some test reports I could figure what you mean. In my cases, the Active View Viewable % varies a lot depending on the website, make sense as the placements where I display ads are not the same, but now I am wondering how to generate an actionable report that could help me to understand what placements or ads need to be improved. Any advice?

    For example, would it help to generate a report showing placements OR ad units per website and then check the Action View Viewable % or do you recommend something else?

    Regards,
    – Julian

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      Hi Julian, in AdSense it is not possible to combine ad units and websites into a report, but since I use to create individual ads per domain I just use the report of ad units to learn more about which one performs good in terms of Viewability and which doesn’t. I use this knowledge to think about what I can improve with each banner that doesn’t get enough views. For some it just means complete repositioning.
      I hope this answers your question.
      Thanks, Thomas

  2. Tankeshwar Acharya

    Dear Thomas
    Thank you for your nice article. I have a problem with the active views in my site. The active views for most ads unit are less than 10%. I have mentioned website above (in the fields). I am not sure what is causing the problem? Your valuable feedback will be of great help for me.

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      Hi, the problem is the placement of the ad. It sometimes seems too high, but often it is below the fold. I can’t imagine that you have 10% for every ad, so take a look at the ones that perform better and try to bring more ads close to this area.

      1. Tankeshwar Acharya

        Thank you Thomas for the feedback. I did not understand your recommendation well, may be because i am the beginner or may be, you became economic for using words. Yes for every ads in that site the active views is ranging from 8-12% so i was concerned. Even the ads above the fold and below the content, which are expected to have around 50%.

        1. Thomas Maier Article Author

          I don’t think there is a natural law for any placement to have at least a 50% visibility. One aspect can be that you might have a large number of mobile visitors. Their screen is much smaller and they are eager to scroll ads away much faster. Visibility for ads after the content also depends on how many users actually scroll down. That also differs from page to page.
          Bottom line: there is no single solution here, but a chance to increase visibility.

  3. Jason

    Hello,
    First, I appreciate your time helping others with AdSense. I have a few questions related to active view stats and how ads should be monetized accord to this figure. Apologies if my questions are a bit broad.

    1. If I take a responsive ad unit and use it 2 or let’s say 3 times on a page while knowing 2 of the positions will have a low view ratio; Should I create different ad-units for the top performing position to generate a higher ‘active view’ stat for that advertisement? Or would this make no difference in attracting advertisers and improving revenue?

    For example… One of my units is displayed 150k times per day, however my active view stat is only at 24%. I believe this is because I use the same advertisement throughout the site, so ads near the footer are bringing this value down. What do you make of this situation?

    2. Is it better to have maximum ads per page, or only using a number of ads that would generate a high active view statistic? If I reduce the number of ads per page, google will alert me and say “You have 1,200 pages that could benefit from more ads.” So do you recommend adding more ads, even if this will significantly lower the active view stats? (This may also tie into question 1)

    3. I recently decided to remove all my ad-units and change to only using 3 primary responsive units. Anytime there is room to place an advertisement, I now select one of the 3 responsive ads. Would you recommend that I create ad-units for each specific location on the site?, or do you recommend using the same adcodes anytime I am looking to place an advertisement.

    3b. Does having too many ad-units have a negative or positive impact with AdSense in general or does this make no difference? So instead of 1 unit being displayed 150k times per day, I could have 15 adcodes being displayed 10k times each.

    4. Do you have any articles about best AdSense Channel practices? How channels should be used, named, and described to target advertisers and improve revenue / bids. Should channels be created and grouped with ads based on performance or simply 1 channel with all your inventory listed? Is it bad to have too many channels and/or too few? Does mentioning ATF (above fold), stats, or locations make any difference to advertisers in channel descriptions? etc..

    Thanks and look forward to your remarks!
    Jason

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      Hi Jason,
      thank you for your valuable questions.
      1. I always use different ad units for each position. I wouldn’t know how to track the performance of a specific position otherwise, so I’d suggest you also create separate units.
      2. I don’t think that low active view stats of a single ad unit will pull your whole account down. You can also ignore AdSense’s suggestions if you feel more comfortable with fewer ads. I also don’t use 3 ad units per page if there is no space where the third one would perform well.
      3. see 1., I also use different ad units for different sections and categories to be able to analyze their performance
      4. I think that the most important for the performance of AdSense Channels is the demand from advertisers and this is very different for each topic and site. I have seen success with bad descriptions and failure with very good setups, so I can only advise to set them up and see what happens.

      I hope I was able to help!
      Thomas

      1. Jason

        Hello Thomas,
        Thanks for your input on the matter. I will go ahead and begin using different ad units for different parts of the site. I have done this in the past however updating ad styles, colors, running a/b tests and so forth were much more time consuming when you have 30+ different ad units. However the benefits do outweigh the time consumption.. Particularly in knowing which ads perform best and where / why.

        Thanks again,
        Although I could go on and on with many questions, perhaps your comments is not the best place for this. I look forward to contacting you further in the near future.

        Best Regards
        Jason

  4. Dave

    Good article Thomas. Do you recommend any specific WordPress plugins for managing ad placement? Also, with the high use of mobile is it best to have more inline ads instead of sidebar ads?

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      Hi Dave, thanks for asking. Of course I’d recommend my Advanced Ads plugin 🙂
      I only saw sidebar ads perform better than inline ads on very rare occasions, so I would always prioritize inline ads.

  5. Teen Career Center

    Thanks, this article helped me. I couldn’t figure out why I had 0% active view on my link ads. Even though they perform pretty well. Because Google doesn’t include this metric for link ads, does that mean advertisers would be less interested in my sites?

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      Hi, I don’t think that the bad metric for the link unit will have any effect on advertisers on your site.

  6. Nabtron

    What’s the optimum value that we should have for active view percentage?

    Does the buyer see the value for whole page or that ad block?

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      Theoretically, 100% would be the optimimum, but I have never seen that. If you understand how they work then you know that it is not possible and some placements have other realistic optimums than others. I am not sure about what the advertisers sees, in my AdWords account I didn’t find those details. It is more likely that advertisers choose to only pay for active views and there is less competition for your impressions without active views on your site.

  7. Pingback: All You Need To Know About Adsense – Adsense

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      A common reason for Active Views going down is an increase in mobile usage. Check your site with smaller devices and it might show you why ads are not visible to many users.

  8. Umesh mishra

    Hey thomas, i am getting around 30% of active view viewable. As i am a newbie, i do not know much about its significance. Please tell me, it is good percentage or bad ?
    What should be the ideal percentage for this ?
    If it is low, how to increase it ?

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      The ideal active view would be 100%, which is probably impossible though. 30% can be good or bad, depending on the position of the ad. Really hard to tell, but when you understand the information in the article, you will know how to look for ways to optimize it.

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      No, it doesn’t mean that. You will get less bits from clients who bit on viewable ads and your click rates will be lower since the ad is not visible, but you will get paid what you earned.

  9. Olagist

    My Active View Viewable always stay on 28 to 31%, hope this metric is good or i should still try and re position my ads?

    any help please?

    1. John Mark

      Dear Olagist,

      You need to work on Active View Viewable. It is better to have higher than you mentioned. Please keep the ads on header and top right or left corner. You may have the ads kept at the bottom of the page. Please clarify where you kept the ads.

  10. Fancyblogs

    Its difficult to understand, how to calculate Active Views, CPC, CPM 🙁 Sometimes they pays high and sometimes nothing.

  11. NaijaLoyalNG

    Hi,

    My Active View Viewable always stay on 38 to 41%, hope this metric is good or i should still try and re position my ads?

    Is there any way I could increase ??

    any help please?

    1. Thomas Maier Article Author

      Hi, the answer is unfortunately “it depends”. If your site receives a lot of mobile traffic and the ad is not visible above the fold than 40% is actually a good metric.