How not to do sticky ads

Making ads sticky can help to improve viewability percentages – viewability is important to many advertisers.

Ads can be made to stick for a short period of time and then disappear, or they can be set up to be “perma-sticky” – so they don’t go away.

When ads are permanently stuck, publishers need to be careful that there’s sufficient space to display everything on the page.

Here’s what I saw on the Telegraph today, while viewing a story:

160819-telegraph-sticky-ads-1.png

The ad is very prominent – it sticks as you scroll down. But with this ad size, the “Most read” cuts off very early on. There are five items – I can barely see two. My browser is 900 pixels tall – the dark grey bar is below the bottom of the browser, showing a small part of my desktop to indicate where my browser ends.

On reloading the page, I got a smaller ad:

160819-telegraph-sticky-ads-2.png

This isn’t as bad as the previous example – but the fifth item is still cut off. You can’t even scroll through the content if you position your mouse in the sidebar and try to scroll through its content. Though not ideal, at least this would allow you to view a bit more of the content.

Out of curiosity, I went into Chrome’s element inspector and deleted the ad so I could see what displays further down the page:

160819-telegraph-sticky-ads-3.png

As it turns out, it’s a sponsored ad unit. Unless this is set up to lazy load the ad only when it comes into view (I was unable to determine this), this ad is probably out of view for a lot of readers.

You can get a better view of the latter part of the sidebar by also deleting the Most read widget from the page:

160819-telegraph-sticky-ads-4.png

And that’s quite a large unit. There’s clearly not room for a single MPU, five Most read items and this sponsored unit – let alone the larger double MPU that first appeared.

The content does scroll away at the end of the story, but for a long story such as this, in my view it doesn’t look great for the content to be cut off like that.

If you have a sticky sidebar such as this, I’d recommend ensuring the content fits the available space.

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