How can I maximize ad viewability on my site?

What is viewability?

Viewability is a measurement advertisers use to determine how well their ad is seen by real, human readers. An ad is considered "viewable" when at least half of the ad is seen on the screen by real, human readers for at least 1 second.

For example, an ad in your site’s footer that isn’t sticky would likely have very low viewability, because readers often do not scroll to the very bottom of your site — while an ad near a recipe may be viewed for a long time while a reader follows the recipe instructions, resulting in very high viewability.

Advertisers can track the viewability of ad impressions for your entire site and for individual ad units, and they use this viewability information to decide how much to bid for your ad spaces. Different advertises can have different baselines for viewability, but generally, better ad viewability makes your site more valuable to advertisers.

If you were an advertiser, would you rather pay to advertise on a site where ads are always seen by readers, or one where the ad loads but no one ever sees it?

Maximizing viewability is essential for long-term success

Each AdThrive site has an individualized ad layout, and we routinely check in to make recommendations with viewability in mind. No two sites are the same, so there’s no singular cookie-cutter ad layout that works for every site!

We don’t fill your site with as many ads as possible and hope that some of them pay well. We would rather spend the time to strategize the most reader-friendly, highly-viewable ad locations for YOUR audience. We consider how each ad unit is contributing and impacting the viewability of your entire site.

Focusing on viewability is better for the long-term health of your ad layout, making ALL of your ad spaces more valuable!

Make sure you’ve decided to run high-viewability ad types

We’ve done a lot of research and testing on the viewability of different ad units. We focus on placing ads in highly-viewable locations on your site, and we also have certain ad placements specifically designed to increase viewability.

Are you currently using any of these highly-viewable ad units to increase your site’s attractiveness to advertisers?

1. Sticky footer ad

This ad type “sticks” to the bottom of the page for the entire session while your reader scrolls down, scoring nearly perfect viewability rates, which brings up your viewability across your entire site. It's one of THE most valuable ads you can run on your site.

This highly-viewable, high-paying ad type is our top recommendation for desktop and mobile traffic. It doesn’t take up much real estate on your site and has an ‘x’ at the top right so readers can close it if they want!


Supercharge your sticky footer ad:

We have a special, “high-impact” version of the sticky footer ad that increases sticky footer ad earnings even more. Read more about the expandable sticky footer ad here.

You can also choose to remove your sticky footer close button, to maximize ad earnings from this unit. Read more here.

2. Content ads

These ads run inside the body of your posts on desktop and mobile, usually between paragraphs. Content ads are especially valuable on mobile, since your sidebar ads don’t run there!


Number of content ads:

Our exclusive technology detects a reader’s screen height and intelligently spaces content ads to maximize your earnings AND keep sites reader-friendly! We also set a maximum number of content ads that could ever appear, even on the longest posts on your site, so the readers who are spending the most time engaging with your content still have a great ad experience.

Content ad viewability:

The viewability of content ads varies widely from site to site, but we’ve generally found that sites with higher content ad viewability have more text (that is relevant to the post topic) than photos.

Here are a few tips to optimize your posts for high content ad viewability:

  • Readers tend to quickly scroll through images, so stick to 1–2 finished product or hero images.
  • Step-by-step images are usually helpful for engagement — just make sure each image is informative and contributing to the reader experience. Each image should serve a distinct purpose on the page.
  • Horizontal images are better for ad viewability, especially on mobile. Images that fill the entire screen height can lead readers to scroll more quickly, sending them zipping past your content ads and decreasing the likelihood that 50% of the ad will be on screen for 1 second.
  • Strategically surround images with text. Make your images work for you by thinking about where they are placed on the page and separating blocks of images with engaging text.
  • Relevant text is vital to the viewability of content ads, inviting readers to spend time on the page with those ads in view. Using a recipe post as an example: if the opening paragraphs aren’t immediately relevant to a site visitor, they might quickly skim down to the recipe box. Grab a reader’s attention in those first few lines by sharing important information (like recipe development information, techniques, or dietary substitutions) so they find value right away and continue reading, not just scrolling.

Rethinking content ad strategy:

If you have previously opted out of content ads, reduced content ads, or asked to have more spacing added between content ads, it’s a great time to revisit your options. Just let us know!

Supercharge your content ads:

We also have special, “high-impact” ad types that can appear inside a content ad slot and earn more than normal display ads. These include:

3. Recipe ad / Instructions ad

A “recipe” can be any form of structured data where readers tend to camp out and follow instructions — not just food, but DIY instructions or non-food recipes as well. Many plugins offer options for non-food “recipes” now.

Readers who follow a recipe/project instruction online spend the most time viewing the ingredients/materials and instructions section of the post. Strategically running ads inside this area where readers camp out virtually guarantees the ads will have high viewability and pay well.


4. Sticky sidebar ad

This ad is the lowest item in your sidebar. When a reader scrolls past, it “sticks” to the screen and scrolls with the reader to the bottom of the page. For most AdThrivers, this is one of the highest-paying, highest-viewability ad spaces! The sooner this ad comes onto the screen and starts scrolling with a reader, the better it pays — so check out these tips on shortening your sidebar and boosting the payout power of your sticky sidebar ad!


If you’re interested in opting in to any of these highly-viewable ad placements, submit a ticket here!

5. Sticky video players

These video players begin inside your post content and then stick to the screen when the reader scrolls past. If you’re running AdThrive-monetized videos on your site, we recommended getting started with our sticky Playlist player.

The sticky Playlist player adds video to EVERY post possible — and those videos are highly-viewable AND high-paying. You can read more about these video players right here!


Fix any issues that affect the viewability of your ads

Over the years, we’ve noticed some common issues that can impact the viewability of your ads and cause them to pay less than they should. Take a look at your site and make sure nothing is affecting your ads.

Things that cover ads:

Nothing should cover or overlap the ads on your site. Covering/overlapping ads can lead to accidental clicks on those ads which would violate Google’s policies.

  • Pop-ups or subscription boxes: These are often set to appear on the right side of your site by default, but if that’s where your sidebar is located, they can end up covering your ads and even scrolling on top of them. An easy solution? Switch the pop-up to the other side of your site!
  • Sticky header bars: Bars that float at the top of your site can end up overlapping the top of your sidebar ads. Fortunately, this is an easy fix for your friendly AdThrive team! If you notice any overlap happening, drop us a line so we can apply a few minor fixes.
  • Floating social media icons or sharing bars: Sometimes these floating social media elements like to overlap the sticky footer ad, especially on mobile. We’d recommend moving these social sharing options into your posts to keep your ads healthy and earning well!
  • Cookie consent banners: This is a big one in light of 2018's GDPR updates. Your AdThrive ads are made compliant by our GDPR consent solution, so if you are using an additional cookie banner, make sure it does not cover any ads. We also highly recommend making sure that these cookie banners only display for visitors from the EU (usually a small percentage of your overall traffic), so you don’t disrupt the user experience for the majority of your visitors.

Things that affect ads:

  • Other ads: Other ad code can impact the way AdThrive ads measure viewability and, as a result, the way advertisers bid for AdThrive ad spaces. If you add any outside ad code to your site, let our team know so we can make sure it’s not unintentionally sabotaging ad performance.

Things that cut off ads:

  • Narrow mobile themes: Mobile themes that have a lot of padding (white space) around the post content may end up cutting off the edges of your ads when readers view the post on small screens. If your mobile theme has a lot of space around the text in your posts, connect with your developer to adjust the margins to make sure your posts are as wide as possible.
  • Narrow sidebars: The best-paying sidebar width is at least 300 pixels. This ensures that the highest-paying sizes of sidebar ads can compete for the ad locations in your sidebar — making you the most money for each ad spot!

Things that hide ads:

Hiding ads with CSS is a Google policy violation. If you need to disable ads for a specific post or page, we have an easy (and Google-compliant) way for you to do that:

  • Wordpress users: If you scroll down below your post editor, you’ll see a section called “AdThrive Ads” where there are checkboxes to disable different types of ads.
  • Other platforms: You can submit a request asking for ads to be disabled on certain URLs.

But remember — disabling ads on your pages can really impact your RPM and ad earnings! We recommend only disabling ads when you absolutely must, and re-enabling them as soon as you can.

Things that detract from ads:

Remember, the longer a reader spends on the page with an ad in view, the higher the viewability score for that ad. Anything that causes readers to scroll quickly through posts can hurt the viewability of your ads.

Take a moment to review the tips in the section for content ads and review some of your recent posts to see if the image and text layout is 1) serving your readers well and 2) encouraging them to slow down and spend time consuming your content, leading to better viewability for your content ads.

The good news is that good ad viewability really goes hand-in-hand with engaging your readers!


Advertisers pay more for sites that have highly-viewable ads. Your ads are considered highly-viewable when they are actually seen by your readers. AdThrive customizes and regularly reviews your site's ad layout to make sure it's optimized for viewability.

The more viewable your ads, the more you'll get paid! So be sure to:

  • Opt in to any/all of our highly-viewable ad types
  • Make sure your ads are not covered, cut-off, or hidden
  • Make sure any additional ad code is playing nice with your AdThrive ads (just ask us!)
  • Include plenty of text between images in your posts

BONUS: Our team breaks down viewability in this video:

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