The mobile sites of Business Insider, The Atlantic and Wired, for example, all display 300 x 250 banners directly below their navigation bars, above their article headlines.
“The topmost region is quickly becoming a well-regarded ‘safe zone,’” said Dan Saltzman, director of user experience at EffectiveUI, a design consulting firm. “As new scrolling paradigms and fixed bottom nav areas have become more popular, the top area provides a sure spot for true impressions.” Still, he added, mobile ad placement remains a moving target for publishers.
Other publishers have gone in the opposite direction by placing ads further down the page. On Forbes’ mobile site, ads are coded to appear below the third and fifth paragraph of every story (Digiday takes a similar approach). Others, such as Quartz, display them between articles in its continuous scroll. From a viewability perspective, this makes more sense. Because mobile screens encourage rapid swiping and scrolling, ads often load long after readers have a chance to actually see them.
The bottom line: When it comes to the optimal mobile ad placement, there’s no standard.
“Publishers are doing what they always do, which is look at their competitors and copying what they see other people doing without knowing what’s effective,” said Dan Maccarone, CEO of design firm Charming Robot. “At the same time, they are also really trying to figure this stuff out. A lot of these publishers are experimenting with things right now and seeing what sticks — like throwing spaghetti at the wall, really.”
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