8 Sneaky Things Eating into Your Ad Revenue

by Matt Peck, on Jul 8, 2021 9:00:00 AM

As an ad publisher, keeping healthy session lengths and bounce rates is intimately tied to maximizing your ad revenue, and providing users with user experience that delights them is key to earning and maintaining their business.

If you’re seeing unexplained changes in your site's metrics, it's likely your site is experiencing issues that are damaging your site's usability.

Here are some of the hidden issues that may be sending users away. 

What Are Heavy Ads?

Heavy ads are digital advertisements that use up enough of your website’s resources to significantly slow down page load times.


According to Google, heavy ads are any ad that has yet to be interacted with and meet any of the following criteria:

  • Uses the main thread of your site for more than 60 seconds in total
  • Uses the main thread of your site for more than 15 seconds in any 30-second window
  • Uses more than 4 megabytes of network bandwidth

A site’s “main thread” is responsible for its basic, step-by-step functioning. 

By limiting the file size of an ad, you free up resources from the main thread, creating faster page load times and better responsiveness.

Google Chrome automatically protects users from heavy ad experiences, but for those without Chrome, it can still be an issue that can reveal itself in your ad revenue.

Users care about page load speeds, and a disappointing site experience will likely send them packing.

This means lower session lengths, which means fewer ad impressions served and a lower payout and overall revenue.

What Is Video Stuffing?

Video stuffing is when a fraudster runs video ads on your content that appear legitimate on the surface, but fires additional invisible video advertising impressions in the background that are never viewed by the user. 


In this kind of malvertising attack, the bad actor is filling your webpage with unseen video advertisements in order to increase ad impressions and revenue. 

This may keep your user experience relatively the same visually but can still cause major problems. 

First, it defrauds the advertiser by charging them for ads that are intentionally not being viewed, resulting in poor ad engagement metrics, which can ultimately bring down your yield. 

Second, these ads use your website’s resources to load multiple videos, causing a huge reduction in site speed (which has serious effects on user experience).

Your user experience is the key to maximizing your ad yield, as the longer a user spends on your site, the more ads you will be able to serve.

Keeping your site clean and free of frustrating and fraudulent interruptions will not only increase your site speed but also your user engagement metrics. 

If you are experiencing unusual behavior in your site metrics, check out the front end of your site to see if you have any ads that are behaving suspiciously.

If you believe an ad is hurting your site performance, add the advertiser to your blocklist. 

What Is Ad Stacking?

Similar to video stuffing, ad stacking is when advertising fraudsters hide invisible ads behind other static ad units.

When this occurs, it's possible that your webpage is loading dozens upon dozens of ads on your content that are not visible to your user.


While you might see a small increase in advertising revenue from these bolstered ads in the short term, over time you will see an increase in drop-off rates due to your suffering user experience.

This is because the hidden number of ads will use up your site resources and drag down your page load speed. The average amount of time a page takes to load is about 2-3 seconds, and anything longer than this will likely send away users.

And less site traffic means less advertising yield.

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What Are Malicious Ads and Landing Pages?

While the ad creative involved with malicious landing pages is often harmless, an ad that results in a user clicking through to a landing page that is malicious or deceptive is just as disruptive and dangerous to your users' experience as other common types of malvertising.


Although you get paid for the ad impressions, you end up paying with your brand reputation. Users will view your site as dangerous or untrustworthy and will be likely to avoid your site in the future. 

This means diminishing returns on ad impressions as more users avoid your site and frustrating user experience.

What Are Prohibited Ads?

These kinds of ads violate generally accepted policies in an extreme manner (including graphic content, false functionality, or intentionally deceptive ads).


These will perhaps be the most upsetting to users and will leave them with extreme reservations about browsing your site.

Site traffic, session lengths, and bounce rates are closely tied to your ad revenue and keeping them in check will maintain a healthy stream of ad revenue.

What Are Ad Pop-ups and Redirects?

Ads that cause unwanted pop-ups and redirects are similar to prohibited ads and malicious landing pages in their deceitful or offensive content but differ by forcing users to engage with the ad or automatically redirect them to the advertiser’s URL.


Some may be harmless, but these ads often attempt to hurt users by stealing data, acquiring credit card information, or setting up crypto scams.

These types of shady practices will have an enormous impact on your brand reputation, leading users to believe your website is not to be trusted and pushing them to browse elsewhere.

Because of this, although you have earned off of the deceptive ad impression, you will end up losing ad revenue in the long-term as users stop coming to your site.

What Is Page Load Speed?

The common theme throughout most of these examples, page load speed, is one of the most crucial factors in maintaining your user experience, delighting your users and deserves a section on its own. In fact, studies have shown that 40% of users will abandon a webpage that takes more than three seconds to load.


And it isn't just bad advertising that can push users away. Other things you need to consider are:

  • File size of images and videos on your site

If the images and videos aren’t properly optimized they can take up much of your sites resources to load

  • Unoptimized JAVA, CSS, or HTML

Anything to burdensome code to poorly written scripts can become an issue here. Make sure the backend of your website is clean and optimized in order to reduce your load speed.

  • Number of plugins

The more plugins you run, the longer it will take for your page to load. Go through your back end editor and remove erroneous plugins to increase your site speed.

  • Website isn’t cached

Whether it is through a Content Delivery Network, or just through Google, if your site isn't cached you should consider looking into it.

This means that instead of a server having to load your entire webpage, elements of your website are stored across servers to help increase load times.

A slow web page won’t only leave a bad impression on your users, but with search engines as well.

In 2010, Google started including page load speed into their search engine algorithm. This means that if they discover (and they will) that your site speed isn’t up to snuff (usually under 2-3 second load time), they will penalize you through your SEO rankings. 

This leaves you losing users on two fronts. Not only will your content be less discoverable, but the sessions that do appear on your site will be cut off by frustrating load times.

Wrapping Up

As a publisher, your user experience is key to maximizing your ad yield. Providing your audience with a poorly optimized site, whether it is the result of fraudulent advertising or your own backend issues, will not only frustrate them, but will diminish your brand quality and keep users away from your webpage.

If you are interested in protecting your content, your revenue, and your users, check out our cleanAD free trial for our unique and leading ad protection services.

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Topics:Ad Fraud 101AdOps StrategyAd Revenue

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