New Blog Series: A Developer's View on Advertising UX

November 10, 2016 by Daniel Bailo

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In this new blog series we dive into digital content monetization and advertising experiences from a deeper technical point of view to understand what’s really going on. Our first blogger is Daniel Bailo, Software Engineer at Kiosked. He shares the big picture challenges and concrete steps taken to improve the user experience of Kiosked ads.

Let's face it. Websites today are fatter and slower than ever – yet at the same time, technology is taking enormous leaps forward. We own faster computers, we have powerful phones, the internet bandwidth is improving year over year.

We have all the building blocks to create the best possible environment online. Yet we face one major hurdle, the trend towards advertising and rich content heavy web pages is damaging site usability.

What happened?

As seen in the HTTP Archive, the traffic for requested images and Javascript files has been on a steady incline, mostly due to insanely large images that take ages to download and render. We have vast libraries that are barely used – due in large part because of advertising.

With the explosion of video content, are sites doomed to slow down to a crawl?

Monetizing content is getting more challenging by the day. Publishers offering quality content need to make money to keep the business up and running. Advertising is generally the most efficient route to fund a publishing business, yet poor ad performance poses many challenges – traditional ad slots boast poor viewability and often fail to perform as they should. Advertisers are not willing to pay as much for poor ad inventory, therefore sending the publisher revenue in a downward spiral.

A malicious cycle is born. Publishers incorporate more ads to recover a piece of the cake. Having more ads on a site inevitably affects the core usability of the site. As imagined,we are starting to see a seemingly endless loop of revenues dropping and ad placements increasing.

Users First

Let’s shift the focus from publishers and advertisers to the most important stakeholder: the users. With ad-heavy sites, redirects, and even malware, it’s no wonder that users are starting to protect themselves by turning to ad blockers.

Ad blockers are essentially a lazy solution for a misunderstood problem. There should be a balance where the UX is acceptable for the users, the publishers are able to run their business, and advertisers are can run successful and impactful campaigns.

Tech for the Win

Our Kiosked front-end team is working every day to decrease the size of our library, so it can perform more efficiently. The library must load first before our script can start looking for the best place to create the ads, after which suitable ads are fetched and rendered to display.

As a third party tech provider, we need to be non-intrusive and respect the site where our code is running. Our library works asynchronously, which means that the DOM (Document Object Model, the tree structure of the site) does not get stuck waiting for our actions to finish. Performance is paramount. Protecting the UX of our publishers always comes first.

In addition to speed, another important aspect of the experience is ensuring viewability. Our ad units are always created within the publisher content. A highly viewable inventory means that the publisher can monetize more efficiently and requires less ads to do so. Which in turn is better for the web users.

Kiosked is working to help the ad tech industry strike the right balance. Publishers can monetize with less ads, advertisers will get noticed in better positions, and users will be able to enjoy quality content without an intrusive experience.

There is more work to be done in the ad tech industry. Let's agree that the effort is well worth it as it means an ultimate win for all parties involved.

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