Commentary

More Than 40% Of Online Ads Make Sites Sluggish

More than 40% of online ads are larger than industry standards which results in sluggish sites and consumer frustrations over slow load times, according to a report from Ad Lightning, a firm that works with publishers to evaluate ad speed.

Oversized ads can also impact viewability. For example, if an ad doesn't load, it can’t be viewed. Some publlshers like Business Insider have started telling advertisers that they can't guarantee ads will be viewed unless advertisers stay within the limits of acceptable data.

“If something is a 10-times-larger file size and takes 10 seconds to load, viewability is a very difficult thing to expect when something is so far out of spec,” Pete Spande, Business Insider's chief revenue officer, told Ad Age.

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has set standards for ad sizes. In fact it recommends a limit of 300 kilobytes for a display ad. Ad Lightning found that 41% of ads it analyzed on thousands of sites were larger than that. In fact, nearly 10% of the ads exceed 5 megabytes.

Business Insider and other publishers are starting to resist large and unwieldy ads. "Lighter ads with less animation just perform better," Spande told Ad Age. "It's not just about viewability."

Google and Facebook have been promoting a speedier Web, since they know how frustrating it is for consumers when pages are slow to load. People tend to give up and abandon pages. Facebook’s Instant Articles encouraged publishers to post stories directly into the social network's system so people didn't even have to leave its site. Google developed a similar product, and is adjusting search results to prioritize Web sites that run faster.

Notably, the report also found that programmatic ad networks are slowing ad delivery because of too many requests being made. “Every programmatic ad that goes into an open auction communicates with ad networks that place bids -- known as requests. Then pieces of code are introduced into the ad to track its performance and other reporting criteria,” according to the Ad Age report.

The IAB has set a guideline of 15 network calls for each ad in an auction, but the average is closer to 60, according to the Ad Lightning report.

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